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Newest millionaire reeled money from a marlin

It wasn't $18-million, but it was enough to persuade Jerry Plummer to quit his job.

On Thursday, Plummer won $1-million in the Florida Lottery Million Dollar Grand Prize Drawing at The Pier. More than 200 people, packed into the Pier's back hall, watched Plummer go from a $26,000-a-year fleet manager to a newly minted millionaire.

But not without a lot of fanfare. Plummer, of New Smyrna Beach, was among seven finalists in the Florida Lottery drawing.

Just like the Wheel of Fortune or The Price Is Right, Plummer and the others picked numbers from a rotating wheel in their quest for riches.

It came down to two men: Mike Barton and Plummer. One would get $1-million, the other $50,000.

Barton, 43, of Spring Hill, looked down at his hands, and sometimes his eyes closed. He appeared fearful, almost in prayer.

Plummer looked head-on and calm.

The men approached the fake marlins on the stage. Each fish held the secret of their cash prize. The crowd counted to five, and Barton and Plummer quickly pulled strings attached to the marlins' mouths. With the pull of a string, the prizes were revealed.

Barton's marlin was worth $50,000; Plummer was a millionaire.

In front of the crowd, a Florida Lottery employee asked Plummer about winning the big money. Plummer simply said, "Great."

Barton, on the other hand, was all nerves.

"I feel shaky," he told a reporter. He said he's going to use some of his earnings to refurbish a Corvette.

Besides chucking his job, the 56-year-old Plummer said he's "going to sit back and think about it (the money) for a while."

His wife, Carol, said she probably would retire from her telephone company job.

Some people contend that $1-million is not a lot of money, especially now that multimillions can be won. But the million-dollar game still has appeal.

"The odds are better for winning a million than winning multimillions," said Ed George, Florida Lottery press secretary.

Odds for a multimillion-dollar prize are one in 13.9-million, George said. Odds for being eligible for a $1-million prize are one in 250,000, George said.

The Million Dollar Grand Prize Drawing is held at least three times a year, said Dave Rhea, a Florida Lottery spokesman. The first drawing was in 1988 in Clearwater. Thomas Sawyer of St. Petersburg claimed the prize.

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