Ryan Jarvi/Daily Globe
MARK MALMBERG, left, hands Gwen Arbuckle, of Odanah, Wis., a check for $28,338, her prize for winning the 2014 Bessemer Blast 50/50 Raffle. The winning ticket number was 1209.
BESSEMER - The big jackpot of $28,338 from the 2014 Bessemer Blast 50/50 raffle has finally been claimed by a Wisconsin woman.
Gwen Arbuckle, of Odanah, Wis ., a supervisor at the Moccasin Trail complex, is the lucky winner with ticket number 1209. Officials verified the ticket on Wednesday.
"I'm going to pay off some medical bills that I have," Arbuckle said of her prize. "I could always use a new roof, and then I'm also helping a student through our local parochial school."
Arbuckle is part of a program in which she makes monthly payments to help a local student with the school's tuition. Now rather than making monthly payments, she said she can make one big one.
Arbuckle said she purchased about $40 worth of tickets, but to do so she relied on a little help from a coworker.
"An employee that I work with at Moccasin Trail lives over here and so he says, 'I'll save you a trip tomorrow and just buy it,'" she explained. "So I gave him my money and he brought it to me and that's how it came about. ... Little did he know he had the winning ticket in his hand."
Arbuckle wasn't able to attend the Bessemer parade because she had to work, but her coworker, who lives in Wakefield, later told her the winning ticket number.
"(My coworker) brought me the number, and he goes 'Gwen, here's that number for the 50/50 raffle,' and I said OK. I just put it in my purse and didn't think nothing of it," she said.
It was about a week after the winning number was announced when she discovered she had the winning ticket. "And after that I went back and gave him a big old hug."
Arbuckle said she plays Bingo and has been a lucky winner in the past, but she's never won something this big.
"Woohoo," she said when the check was presented to her. "It's real."
Mark Malmberg, coordinator of the 50/50 raffle, said the money raised will go back to next year's festivities.
"The proceeds of the 50/50 along with the money that we received from all of our other private donations, is what helps put on the Bessemer Fourth of July and all the activities," Malmberg said. "We've strived to have all the activities to be free to the public to enjoy, and this is basically one of the big ways can we do it."