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Thursday, May 05 2011 04:50 PM

Family talks about experience of winning $51 million lottery

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Bakersfield residents from left: Bob Urquhart and his wife, Etta May, and her son, Ronnie Orender, recall how they found out they had the winning $51 million MEGA Millions lottery ticket at a press conference at the California Lottery office in Fresno Thursday.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Bakersfield resident Ronnie Orender receives the big lottery check from Linh Nguyen, acting director of the California Lottery, at a Fresno press conference Thursday. Orender is accompanied by his mother, Etta May Urquhart, second from left, who bought the winning ticket, and her husband, Bob, far left, along with his daughter, Sheila Gladden, third from right, and her husband, Ryan, behind Nguyen. They found out they had the winning $51 million ticket Wednesday morning.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Bakersfield resident Ronnie Orender has a big smile on his face as he received the official word Thursday that he was indeed the winner of the $51 million MEGA Millions jackpot at a press conference in Fresno.

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BY JASON KOTOWSKI, Californian staff writer jkotowski@bakersfield.com

Ronnie Orender’s days as a truck driver will soon be over.

He plans to buy a house and a few cars. He’s also hard of hearing, so a hearing aid will be among the first purchases.

Beyond that, who knows?

“We’re just going to enjoy ourselves the best we can in life,” Bakersfield’s Orender said during a press conference in Fresno Thursday to officially crown the latest MEGA Millions lottery winner.

The $51 million Orender won can buy a lot of houses and cars. He can afford a different hearing aid for every day of the year.

In fact, his winnings represent the largest lottery win ever in Kern County, according to California Lottery officials. He has opted to take the lump sum cash payment of $32.3 million — before taxes are taken out.

Orender’s mother, Etta May Urquhart, bought the winning ticket Tuesday at Stuarts Oak Street Mobil at Oak Street and Brundage Lane. For years he’s given her money to buy tickets.

Etta May, 75, screamed when she read the MEGA Millions numbers in the newspaper Wednesday morning. Her husband, Bob Urquhart, and Orender ran in from the yard to see what was the matter and Etta May told them the news.

“I thought she was drunk,” Bob Urquhart quipped.

Bob Urquhart, 78, was in a jovial mood talking to reporters during the press conference.

What are you going to do with the money?

“We’re going to spend it,” Urquhart replied.

How long have you been playing the lottery?

“How long have we been alive?” he said, getting a laugh from his wife and son.

Also present were Sheila Gladden, Orender’s daughter, and her husband, Ryan Gladden.

The family went to a restaurant Wednesday night to celebrate, but Orender said they could barely eat. Later, he downed three or four beers to help him sleep, Orender said.

Bob Urquhart said his son drank a bit more that.

“About 12 beers,” Urquhart clarified.

The family will be staying in Bakersfield. Etta May Urquhart said they moved to Bakersfield from Delano more than 30 years ago.

As the questions wound down, Orender stared at the huge check lying before him. He seemed a little unsure of his next move.

“Can I take this now?” he asked a lottery representative.

He could. And with that, Orender was officially a multimillionaire.

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