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Kirtland Airman hits jackpot

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- Master Sgt. John San Cartier holds his winning lottery check for $93.4 million. He is a special operations loadmaster instructor with the 58th Training Squadron here. (U.S. Air Force photo)

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- Master Sgt. John San Cartier holds his winning lottery check for $93.4 million. He is a special operations loadmaster instructor with the 58th Training Squadron here. (U.S. Air Force photo)

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. (AFPN) -- A master sergeant here got a whole lot more than milk during a recent trip to the supermarket.

In fact, Master Sgt. John San Cartier, a special operations loadmaster instructor with the 58th Training Squadron, “got” a lottery ticket that ended up winning the $93.4 million jackpot.

The 15-year Air Force veteran purchased the winning ticket Aug. 9 after making an emergency trip to the supermarket to purchase a gallon of milk.

The occasional lottery player saw the winning jackpot amount and decided to purchase 10 quick-pick tickets where the numbers were randomly generated.

On his way to work the next morning, Sergeant San Cartier heard on the radio that the winner was from New Mexico and thought to himself, “Wouldn’t that be something if I went to work and didn’t know I was a millionaire all day?”

After work, he checked, and rechecked, and triple-checked his numbers against those posted on the Web, running through a variety of sites in disbelief before finally calling his wife to verify the numbers.

Finally, he stored the numbers in a safety deposit box, which is a standard recommendation for future lottery winners. At that point, it was time to get his affairs in order.

The ensuing weeks saw Sergeant San Cartier meeting with financial and legal advisers to plan his future. Sergeant San Cartier chose to take a lump sum of $52.2 million, rather than spread the payments out in annual installments. According to lottery officials, after taxes, he will receive a one-time wire transfer of about $36 million.

This windfall has presented the sergeant with many choices. For the time being, Sergeant San Cartier is keeping his options open.

“The Air Force has been very good to me and my family,” said the father of two. “I’ve had an exciting career and been to places that I never would have if I hadn’t joined.”

“He’s a hard worker, a dedicated worker,” said Lt. Col. Tom Marocchini, 58th TRS commander. “It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. He is liked by everyone. ... We have a great team and everyone was excited to see one of our own win big.”

Sergeant San Cartier, 33, joined the Air Force in 1989 after graduating high school. Recently, he focused his career on becoming a chief master sergeant.

“I always look for and enjoy opportunities to mentor our young Airmen,” he said.

“He always took on a lot more responsibility than was typically expected of his rank,” Colonel Marocchini said.

This sense of responsibility carries over into Sergeant San Cartier’s future plans.

“This money has been a great opportunity for my family and me, opening many doors for us. Ultimately, we will do what’s in the best interest of ourselves and the Air Force,” he said.

The prize is the second largest in New Mexico history and the largest claimed by a single person.

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