By Jim Misunas
Sometimes good things happen to good people.
Kansas Lottery officials would agree with that theory after a retired Fort Larned National Historic Site custodian claimed one of the state’s premier prizes.
Ben H. Bailey, 74, of Larned received the keys to a 2011 Ford Mustang GT Kansas Speedway® Official Pace Car at Marmie Ford in Great Bend Thursday. The presentation was coordinated by Lottery director Dennis Wilson at Marmie Ford, 1815 10th Street.
In addition to the car, his grand prize includes the payment of mandatory state and federal income withholding taxes, plus all applicable taxes and fees for the vehicle, bringing the total value of the grand prize to $61,000.
Bailey was described by Fort Larned Superintendent George Elmore as a honest hard-working custodian with a kind heart who took great pride in his work. Bailey retired in 2002 after serving 20 years at Fort Larned.
“Couldn’t happen to anyone nicer,” Elmore said.
Bailey won the 2011 Ford Mustang GT pace car in a Power Play to Kansas Speedway Lottery drawing Oct. 9 before the NASCAR race at Kansas Speedway.
The Mustang will replace his 1999 Fort Contour with 90,000 miles, purchased at Marmie Ford. His favorite car he owned was an 1986 Cutlass Oldsmobile originally owned by his father.
He said family members are anxious to see his new prize. He will make plans to see his sister Lois Evans and her family in San Jose, Calif.; and a second sister, Anna Lake and her family in Gainesville, Fla.
Bailey wore a constant smile and enjoyed his moment of good fortune while being interviewed by Lottery officials and KSN-TV. After a lunch at Montana Mike’s, Bailey was going to enjoy his new Mustang.
“I’ve let everyone I know I won this car — now I get to show them,” he said. “I’m going to visit my sisters in California and Florida and that’s a great reason to see all my nieces and nephews. I plan on having a good time with this.”
To become eligible for the Power Play to Kansas Speedway® promotion, players purchased Powerball with Power Play, $10 minimum, on a single ticket to receive an entry form for the drawings. Bailey started buying the $10 minimum twice a week starting in the spring.
Colleen O’Neil, Kansas Lottery marketing director, called Bailey with plenty of background noise from the Kansas Speedway racetrack.
“I told him that they just announced at the track that Ben Bailey was the winner of the Fort Mustang,” O’Neil said. “But it was pretty loud.”
Bailey heard a lot of background noise and had to be convinced O’Neil was sincere.
“At first, I thought someone was playing a joke on me,” he said.
Bailey purchased his winning entry at Dillons 9 Store, 423 Main Street in Larned. As for the Lottery, Bailey plans to keep on playing, which made Lottery officials smile.
“I guess we have to see what kind of luck I have,” he said.