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Friday, November 14, 1997
First Lotto Texas winner looks back on five
years of enjoying jackpot
By DENISE DRAKE / San Antonio Express-News
SCHULENBURG, Texas -- Janie Kallus knows what it's like to
be the center of attention. On Nov. 28, 1992, she became the first
Lotto Texas millionaire.
As the fifth anniversary of the Texas Lottery neared, she reflected
in an interview on how a little luck and some matching numbers
changed her life forever.
"I never thought something like this would happen to me,"
Kallus said. "It's taken some getting used to."
The adjustment to fame started the night she bought $3 worth
of tickets from Leo's Stop 'N Shop in her hometown.
Kallus had her own style for choosing the winning six.
"I opened up the Houston Chronicle that afternoon and
picked the numbers from other state lotteries. Then I added number
50 since it appeared the most often."
Her method worked magic. That evening she became $21.7 million
richer. She recalls writing down the numbers as they appeared
on the screen and then comparing them with her ticket.
"I was so happy just to get three numbers. Then I got
four, and then five, and I had to hold my breath for number six.
I was so shocked when I realized I had won that it took me a long
time to come to," she recalled.
The following week felt like a dream for her. After receiving
her check and talking briefly to reporters, she felt her mind
racing with excitement.
But while the attention was captivating, the thrill of winning
The first year the retired nurse was confronted with numerous
requests for money. People from all over the state wrote letters
and came to her house wanting to share in her win.
A Houston man wanted Kallus to give him a big check, saying
he wanted to buy a tombstone for his mother's grave.
The harassment got so bad she invested in a security system
and even a full-time police guard.
At the time she won, Kallus, then 65, said she would use the
money to help take care of her 94-year-old mother.
She didn't disclose the investments of her after-tax winnings.
It helped having a community that was protective of her safety,
she said. The Schulenburg Police Department and neighbors upheld
her request to help her keep a low profile.
"I feel like I could call on them to do anything and they
would be there for me," Kallus said.
To return the generosity shown by the community, she has made
donations to the organizations that have supported her the most.
The Police Department received a new camera for investigations.
The St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church and school also have benefited.
Kallus bought a car for the Sisters of St. Rose and a portable
organ for the church. She has also donated money for the construction
of a new building for the St. Rose Elementary School.
When she went into the hospital during the summer, students
sent her handmade cards.
To thank them, Kallus treated the children to cake and ice
cream last month.
"They prayed for me and were wonderful," she said.
She has two relatives in Schulenburg -- a married niece with
two children. The town's on Interstate 10 about 100 miles east
of San Antonio.
While Kallus enjoys making the welfare of her native Schulenburg
her first concern, she hasn't forgotten to enjoy some of her winnings.
She recently traded in her 1985 Chevrolet Celebrity for something
with a little more kick -- a shiny new champagne-colored Cadillac.
Her attention is divided, however, between the car and the
one companion that has stood by her from the beginning. Freddy,
her black labrador, has been with her 12 years.
She says his spunk was what distinguished him from others in
Today, that same energetic personality keeps Kallus busy.
"He is a very picky eater. He likes baby carrots and he
will eat any salad so long as it doesn't have Italian dressing,"
When not spending quality time at home with Freddy, she plays
She still buys a lotto ticket every now and then, although
she says she never would claim the money if she won.
Winning the lotto twice, however, could never compare to being
the person who began it all -- the first lotto millionaire.
Kallus said: "There's no other feeling like it. It's overwhelming."
Distributed by The Associated Press
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