What's Green and Worth $8 Million? The Lottery Ticket a Lucky Harrisburg Couple Bought for $1!

updated 08/15/1983 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/15/1983 AT 01:00 AM EDT

After paying the preacher's $5 fee, Nicholas and Marvein Jorich began their marriage 36 years ago with exactly $15. But they knew what they wanted out of life. "I told Marvein we should grab what we could grab," recalls Nicholas, 59, a retired steelworker from Harrisburg, Pa. "Our philosophy was that you can't have a bank account and merchandise at the same time—it was one or the other." The couple worked hard, very hard. Nicholas put in 38 years at the Bethlehem Steel plant, retiring in 1982. Marvein was a night-shift waitress at a restaurant. The two paychecks paid for a comfortable life-style—two homes, two cars, two boats and an investment portfolio. "The guys at the mill used to call me money-hungry," says Nicholas, who worked overtime as much as he could. "But I was just trying to make my wife happy. If she had money to spend, that made me happy."

By now they should both be ecstatic. Three weeks ago Nicholas collected $8.8 million in the Pennsylvania lottery, the largest sum ever won by one person in the U.S. They were at their summer home at Rehoboth Beach, Del. when they checked their tickets against the winning number in the newspaper. "I was dumbfounded," says Nicholas. "I kept thinking as I was sitting there with our crab pots, 'We're millionaires.' " Marvein, 55, did the practical thing: She stuffed the winning ticket into her purse and held on tight until they were able to claim their huge prize two days later. Then she quit her job at the restaurant and went shopping—for a new Cadillac.

Neither Nicholas nor Marvein grew up with money. Nicholas remembers sharing two beds with his nine brothers and sisters. Marvein, whose coal miner father died when she was 4 years old, has worked since she was 18. They will collect their money in 21 annual installments of $420,000 each, minus a federal tax bite of $84,000, and plan to share the good luck with their children, Nicholas, 30, and Cindi, 28. Past lottery winners have found the experience traumatic, but Marvein anticipates no problems. "If we had lived in a rundown house and had no car, maybe we'd go out and spend it all," she says, "but we already had everything."

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