Bosnian refugee wins $1million
Lottery numbers came off bottle
By Sheldon S. Shafer
By Pam Spaulding, The C-J
Sanel Barakovic held the vitamin bottle that provided the numbers that his father, Kemal Barakovic, right, selected for his five Cash Ball tickets. He claimed his winnings yesterday.
A Bosnian refugee who used bar-code numbers from the bottom of a vitamin bottle to choose his Kentucky Lottery Cash Ball numbers ended up with five winning tickets. Yesterday he claimed $1million in prizes.
Kemal Barakovic, who settled in Louisville after leaving a refugee camp in Croatia 10 years ago, has always dreamed of having "his own home in America, and now that dream can become a reality," said his son, Sanel Barakovic.
Kemal Barakovic speaks little English; Sanel and his brother, Amir, spoke for their father yesterday at Kentucky Lottery headquarters in Louisville.
The elder Barakovic bought five $1 Cash Ball tickets Monday at the Thorntons at 5318 Preston Highway and played the same five numbers on each ticket — 11, 14, 21, 24 and the Cash Ball, 22. Each winning ticket paid $200,000. The odds of matching all five numbers are one in 1,268,520.
Lottery officials said it's the first time a player has had multiple winning tickets in a drawing for Cash Ball, a game that started in March 2001 and has six drawings a week.
Kemal Barakovic, 61, who makes air filters at Airguard in Louisville, spends about $20 a week on lottery tickets and has a habit of picking numbers off items he finds around his apartment in Buechel, Sanel Barakovic said.
Sanel Barakovic works as a clerk at the Thorntons and frequently sells his father tickets. He said his father came in Monday evening with the numbers off the bottle, saying he wanted to play the same numbers on all five tickets.
Sanel Barakovic said he tried to persuade his father to pick different numbers on each play, but "Dad always said, `Why go for $200,000 when you can shoot for a million?'"
Lottery president Arch Gleason said there is no prohibition on clerks selling tickets to family members. He said there is no way they can know in advance the numbers that will be drawn.
Still, Gleason and lottery spokesman Chip Polston said the lottery security staff went to great lengths to validate the five winning tickets, including checking the videotape of the Monday-night drawing and screening the store's security-camera tape of the transaction. They found everything "was on the up and up," Gleason said.
Sanel Barakovic said his father intends to share the money with him and his brother, a truck driver who lives in Iowa but came to Louisville yesterday for the festivities.
Amir Barakovic said his mother, Habiba, stayed home yesterday because "she couldn't handle this."
With the winnings, minus 31 percent automatically withheld for federal and state taxes, the family plans to visit relatives in Bosnia, and his father plans to buy a house and pay off some debts, Sanel Barakovic said.
The father probably will take a break from playing the lottery for a while and intends to keep his job, Sanel Barakovic said.