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St. Charles Couple Claims $96.5 Million Powerball Prize

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John and Susan Brands say they are inspired by the Lord of the Rings movies to visit New Zealand. (Getty Images)

John and Susan Brands say they are inspired by the Lord of the Rings movies to visit New Zealand. (Getty Images)

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ST. CHARLES, Mo. (AP) — Less than a week after they won a $96.5 million Powerball prize, an eastern Missouri husband and wife have already made big changes in their lives and big plans for their future.

John and Susan Brands, both 49, of St. Charles, were identified Friday by the Missouri Lottery as the winners of the jackpot in the March 22 drawing.

Susan Brands is studying web design and plans to finish out the semester, according to a news release from the Missouri Lottery. The couple also plan to replace the older-model cars they’re driving.

Since discovering the morning after the drawing that his ticket matched all five numbers plus the Powerball, John Brands has quit his job as a civil engineer. The native of Portageville, Mo., is thinking of buying some farmland.

“Like the line from the movie ‘O Brother, Where Art Thou': ‘You ain’t no kind of man, if you ain’t got land,'” he said.

Susan Brands, a native of Wichita, Kan., said she’s looking forward to traveling, including a trip to New Zealand.

Why New Zealand?

“We’re nerds,” she said. “That’s where ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and ‘The Hobbit’ were filmed.”

The couple also said they plan to explore interests for which they haven’t had time, such as learning new languages, going to culinary school and, for John, taking guitar lessons.

John Brands purchased the winning ticket at Bridgeton Mobil in suburban St. Louis. He let the computer select the winning combination, which was: 13, 28, 31, 55, 58, Powerball 15.

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