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Friday, 13 December, 2002, 10:54 GMT
Golden double for US lottery couple
Angelo and Maria Gallina
The winning numbers were picked with a $10 gadget
A husband and wife from California have scooped lottery jackpots twice in the same day, defying odds of several trillion to one.

Angelo and Maria Gallina bought two separate tickets for different lottery competitions and won on both, collecting a total of more than $17m.

I think I'll eat cake

Angelo Gallina
The couple have been playing lotteries for nearly 20 years.

They believe they have spent $124,000 so far on tickets.

Every week they sit in front of the television, holding hands, watching the numbered balls shoot out of the lottery machine.

They thought their luck was finally in three weeks ago when Maria found she had won $126,000 on the so-called Fantasy Five game, but an hour later they hit the jackpot again.

To their disbelief, Angelo discovered he had won $17m before tax on the Super Lotto Plus.

US lottery officials say that has never been done before.

Lucky gadget

Angelo, a 78-year-old retired railway worker from Belmont, told the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper that he had been buying $20 worth of tickets every day since the lottery started in 1985.

Lucky numbers
Super Lotto - 10,41,7,47,21, mega 4
Fantasy Five - 15, 18, 26, 35, 37
He said they chose their numbers by shaking a $10 plastic gadget bought at a local chemist. The gadget is filled with numbered balls that fall into slots.

The couple said they were about to throw it away because it was useless but decided to use it one last time.

They added that they have been continuing to buy lottery tickets since their wins, describing the game as their main leisure activity.

Enormous odds

Angelo Gallina said he celebrated the win by filling up the car with petrol and getting a haircut.

"I think I'll eat cake," he told lottery officials, adding that he would buy a car and a house for his adult children.

Mike Orkin, professor of statistics at California State University, said the odds of such a double win were almost 23,575 billion to one.

However, the Gallinas' jackpot is a long way from being the largest in California's lottery history.

In June 2001, a retired grocer from San Jose won $141m, the highest single-state jackpot in US history.

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 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's David Willis reports from California
"This week their luck was in big time"
See also:

29 Jun 01 | Americas
24 Jun 01 | Americas
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06 May 00 | Americas
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