By Jon Dawson
It’s the type of situation that’s inspired thousands of bad romantic comedies: A loving couple buys a lottery ticket as a goof, their ticket ends up being a winner, the couple fights over who owns the ticket, and the moviegoer demands their $10 back when people behind them won’t stop talking during the movie.
In the case of Dianna Rigg, 34, and Burt Mustin, 43, of Bucklesberry, the pair have been dating “right regular” for a little over a year since they hit it off at a sardine convention. The ticket they purchased at Sam’s gas station in Little Baltimore yielded a $70,000 payoff after taxes.
While Rigg and Mustin both admit the lottery ticket was bought using loose change from a cup holder in Mustin’s 1984 Chrysler Laser that both have contributed to, they cannot agree on how to divide the winnings.
“My Cheez Whiz bill alone is usually around $100 a week,” Rigg said. “Since many companies are holding their products at the warehouses to inflate prices, that $70,000 lottery ticket could keep me in aerosol cheese for quite a while.”
“I live closer to Wayne County than I do Kinston,” Mustin said. “But I’m stuck on City of Kinston utilities out here in Lenoir County. That $70,000 lottery money would cover my light bill for at least four months.”
After a night on the town that included a tractor pull and a viewing of the new Renoir exhibit in Raleigh, the couple stopped at a gas station in Smithfield for cigarettes. Having downed several cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer at the Renoir exhibit, they decided to buy 10 lottery tickets.
“At the time, we considered the lottery tickets to be a sound investment,” Rigg said on Monday. “After the PBR wore off, I just thought we’d wasted $20 that could have been spent on something practical, like Renoir beer cozies. There’s really no way to properly appreciated Renoir’s Dance at Bougival until you’ve seen it wrapped around an ice cold can of barley, hops and regret.”
The following day the couple started scratching — their tickets.
“The first nine tickets were all duds,” Mustin said. “By the time we got to the last one, Dianna got tired and threw it at me. She left in a huff, so I took that to mean she didn’t want it.”
That last ticket sat on their kitchen table unscratched for the next two days.
“My sister came over one night for supper and brought along her 5-year-old son,” Mustin said. “My little nephew always likes to take those car flyers that come through the mail with the little scratch-off windows and play with them. I used to throw them out, but ever since that little rascal won a Leon Spinks Grilling Machine from Blizzard Building Supply, I started saving them for when he comes over.”
Thinking the lottery ticket was a car advertisement, the five-year-old entrepreneur conned Mustin out of a quarter “because quarters scratch better than pennies” and set to uncovering what mysteries lay under the thin silver patch of latex ink.
“Usually he’ll run up to me and show the results,” Mustin said. “But that night the little schnoinkel tried to ease out the door with the ticket folded up in his sock. I knew something was up when he told his mama he was ready to go to bed at 7 p.m.”
After members of the Bucklesberry Fire Department arrived on the scene with the Jaws of Life, they were able to successfully extract the lottery ticket from the clenched fist of Mustin’s nephew.
“Last night I told Dianna I thought we’d been growing apart and that we should just make a clean break,” Mustin said. “She then yelled, “LOOK ITS GAYLORD SARTAIN!”, and while my head was turned she took the ticket from my shirt pocket and lit out for the territories.”
Unable to come to an agreement on how to divide the winnings, Mustin and Rigg have filed suit against each other in Lenoir County District Court. Between attorney fees and court costs, the trial is expected to cost Mustin and Rigg nearly $35,000 each.
Jon Dawson’s books available at www.JonDawson.com.