Central Falls lottery player becomes a millionaire

A retired bus driver from Central Falls thought he had struck it rich with a lottery ticket worth $250,000. But it turns out Rhode Island's smallest, poorest city has a new millionaire in Dennis J. Edwards Jr.

State lottery officials say Edwards had quite a shock when he showed up at lottery headquarters in Cranston on Friday with a Mega Millions ticket for the April 16 drawing that had matched five numbers. The standard payout is a quarter-million dollars.

But Edwards purchased a feature for an extra $1 that automatically quadrupled the prize. Officials say he "nearly fell over" when he found out he had become a millionaire.

Edwards is a retired bus driver for disabled children with eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, according to the Lottery. Officials said he was overjoyed and shaking when he told them what he planned to do with the winnings: go to Disney World, and maybe buy a house.

A telephone listing for Edwards could not immediately be found.

Central Falls, a 1.3-square-mile city of 19,000 residents that is Rhode Island's poorest, has struggled in recent years. A state receiver was appointed in 2010 to address its shaky finances, and the city went through a painful municipal bankruptcy during which taxes were hiked, pensions were cut and city employees were laid off.

Central Falls emerged from bankruptcy last fall with a five-year fiscal recovery plan. The state dissolved the receivership, and turned control back over to local leaders, just last week.

"It's definitely great news to come from Central Falls," Mayor James Diossa said Friday when told that the city had a new millionaire.

He added with a laugh, "Hopefully he stays in the 1 square mile and helps us out a little bit."

Edwards' ticket was the second one worth $1 million sold in the state to be turned in this week. Lawrence Croce Jr. of Wakefield claimed his Powerball winnings on Monday.