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Stella! Ornery Dog Leads to $1M Lottery Win

Miniature pinscher forces owner to make surprise buy
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 9, 2013 5:45 PM CST

(Newser) – A group of blue collar University of Utah workers will split $1 million in lottery winnings thanks to a set of keys left in a truck and an ornery little dog named Stella. Thirteen years after playing the same set of numbers every month in the Idaho lottery, the group of 33 workers who work on heating and cooling university buildings hit pay dirt when Steve Hughes left his truck running to keep his dog Stella warm while he went inside to a gas station near Lava Hot Springs, Idaho, on Jan. 6. Utah has no lottery.

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When he returned to his truck, his miniature pinscher had locked him out by putting her paw on the manual lock. Hughes, 29, planned to buy the ticket elsewhere, but instead he had his girlfriend buy it there while he tried to open the door with a slim jim. He eventually coached Stella to put her paws on the electronic window button in the back seat, allowing Hughes to get in the car. What seemed like an annoying delay that day turned out to be serendipitous when the group discovered Wednesday night that they had won second prize in the Idaho Powerball. Hughes and his supervisor say they will each get about $20,000 after taxes, or as Hughes said, "A nice little bonus during the year." Click for more. (Read more lottery winner stories.)

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