EAST MANATEE —There were stunned expressions and mouths hanging open this morning when neighbors learned the news that a couple on their street are the winners of the $61.5 million Powerball jackpot.
Steve Ziegler, 46, and Cheri Ziegler, 44, who reside in the Greyhawk Landing subdivision, purchased the winning ticket -- 14-26-37-41-46 and the Powerball number, 24 -- at Hess Express, 11002 S.R. 64 in Lakewood Ranch.
“Wow. They really deserve it,” said John McDonald, who lives just across the street from the Zieglers. “So that’s why he’s been home the last two weeks.”
A trust set up by the Zieglers will receive a one-time, lump-sum payment of $34,553,793.03, according to a news release from the Florida Lottery. They are the third winners from Florida to win the Powerball jackpot.
Neighbors said Steve Ziegler worked at a tile company and Cheri Ziegler had done some part-time work selling items such as cosmetics or jewelry online.
“With the housing industry, it’s been a rocky,” McDonald said. “This is one of those things you hear about happening. ... Well. I hope they don’t move.”
In a news release from the Florida Lotter, Steve Ziegler said, “I saw one the first line of numbers that we had matched three numbers, then four, then five and I wondered how much that would pay. Then I saw we also matched the Powerball, at which point my wife said I went pale.”
The Zieglers thought the jackpot was worth about $20 million, until a family member corrected them a few hours later, according to the release.
“Oh, my Lord. No way,” said Paula Lohnes, who lives just next door to the Zieglers and was excited to hear the news. She immediately dialed the Zieglers to leave them a voice mail.
“They’re just a very nice couple. Cheri’s very quiet. He does tile. ... I’m very happy for them,” she said.
No one answered the door at the Ziegler residence this morning.
The couple has roots in Philadelphia and some family members live nearby, according to neighbors.