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Aug. 10, 2012: Cha-ching! Local couple gets right numbers

Lottery winners Gene and Julie Kolasinksi hold the $147,000 check -- their prize for the Badger 5 lottery . Gene bought the winning ticket at the River Falls Bob and Steve's BP Amoco, which now features a sign indicating the big win. <i>Jillian Dexheimer photo</i>

He couldn't believe his eyes, so Town of Troy resident Gene Kolasinski yelled for his wife of 24 years, Julie.

"I thought he was having a heart attack," she admitted.

As Julie entered the room, Gene, a River Falls Utilities retiree, thrust something into her hand. He asked her to look at the computer screen.

When she realized what she was looking at, she looked at Gene, who was at this point shaking.

The couple had won the Badger 5 lottery. Not just the few bucks that they had won in the past, but the big one -- $147,000.

The parents of five children -- Bryan, Krista, Joe, Brian and Kayla -- are not regular lottery players. "We play when it gets big," said Gene, "at least over $50,000."

With an increasing jackpot, Gene decided to try his luck and stopped by the Bob and Steve's BP Amoco, 1553 Paulson Street, at the end of July and bought $3 worth of quick-pick lottery numbers.

With the odds, according to, at 1:169,911, Gene was confident, "I told her (Julie) that I was going to win one of these," he said chuckling.

With the Badger 5 drawing held on a Saturday night, Gene didn't check his numbers online at until the next morning. Gene saw that the jackpot had gone back to its starting amount -- $10,000.

He scrolled down a bit and saw that the winner was from River Falls -- and that the winning amount was $147,000.

Starting to get excited, that maybe his numbers were the lucky ones, he looked at his ticket.

At first it didn't sink in -- "I was shaking so badly," said Gene.

It was during that time that Julie, a nurse at United Family Medical in St. Paul, heard her husband yelling for her. She thought he needed medical help.

Not so. Within a few minutes Julie confirmed the numbers drawn were on the ticket she held in her hand and they had won the jackpot.

According to Bob and Steve's BP Amoco store manager Sandy Balcerak, this is the most that has been won in River Falls, with the "...average being $100 or so."

The week after winning, the Kolasinski's headed to the lottery offices to collect their big check. After taxes were taken out, the Kolasinski's took home just under $99,000.

On the way home to River Falls, the grandparents of five, with another one on the way, stopped in Baraboo and stayed in the Honeymoon Suite -- Julie also bought a new pair of shoes.

After taking the check to the bank, the first thing the Kolasinskis did was pay off loans and credit card balances.

"The first week I spent $27,000," Gene said.

Next on the list is to complete some remodeling projects -- a new detached garage and some miscellaneous work in the house.

They also plan to buy a hot tub and take their family on a trip.

As word of their lottery win spreads, Gene said he often hears "I finally know someone who has won the lottery, at least a big win."

Jillian Dexheimer

Jillian Dexheimer has been a copy editor and reporter for the River Falls Journal since 2011. She previously worked for the River Falls Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau. Dexheimer holds a sociology degree from UW-River Falls.