News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

May 15, 2014

Contestant relives memories from 1997 appearance

Prairie Creek resident was big winner 17 years ago

TERRE HAUTE — Almost 17 years after Prairie Creek resident Betty Sparks won a big check from the popular TV show, “Hoosier Millionaire,” the big check literally still hangs on her garage and she sees it each time she drives.

“Take that to the bank,” Sparks said of what her 4-year-old grandson always tells her.

“It won’t go through the drive-through window,” she usually jokingly responds, she said.

In September 1997, Sparks had one of the most exciting and unforgettable experiences in her life. She got on the “Hoosier Millionaire” show and took home $125,000.

“I’ve never experienced anything like that in my life,” she said in an interview Thursday at her home in Prairie Creek. She hoped to try her luck again at Thursday night’s “Hoosier Millionaire” show stop in Terre Haute but was unable to plan for it in time.

In 1997, Sparks seemed to be very lucky.

She had one scratch-off ticket — “the first time I had gotten a scratch-off” — and her name was drawn as a show contestant. She spent $1 on the ticket.

Accompanied by her husband, Bob, their children and other members of the family, the then 62-year-old cafeteria manager at an elementary school went to Indianapolis in September 1997 to be a contestant on the show.

Now at 79, Sparks recalled the excitement and nervousness she felt.

“I was petrified,” she said, but overall, “it was just a good feeling.”

A limousine transported her and her husband to and from the show, a moment that Sparks fondly recalled. She also remembered 5 and 7 as her lucky numbers. With lucky number 7, she got $10,000.

“I was tickled to death to get what I got,” she said of the $125,000 total winnings.

After taxes, Sparks received $90,000, which she said was used to pay off farmland and for a family trip. She also gave some money to her two daughters. She said it felt good to help her family.

“I’ve never won anything before,” she said.

She admitted that she doesn’t buy lottery tickets in bulk “because I’m a little tight with my money,” but the $1 she spent on the scratch-off ticket in 1997 was “well worth it.”

“It was a good investment.”

Tribune-Star Reporter Dianne Frances D. Powell can be reached at 812-231-4299 or

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local & Bistate
Latest News Poll
AP Video
Israeli American Reservist Torn Over Return Six Indicted in StubHub Hacking Scheme Migrants Back in Honduras After US Deports Crash Kills Teen Pilot Seeking World Record Last Mass Lynching in U.S. Remains Unsolved Ariz. Inmate Dies 2 Hours After Execution Began Plane Crashes in Taiwan, Dozens Feared Dead Raw: Funeral for Man Who Died in NYPD Custody Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-free Travel Raw: Mourners Gather As MH17 Bodies Transported Raw: ISS Cargo Ship Launches in Kazakhstan Broncos Owner Steps Down Due to Alzheimer's LeBron James Sends Apology Treat to Neighbors Former NTSB Official: FAA Ban 'prudent' Biden Decries Voting Restrictions in NAACP Talk Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament US, UN Push Shuttle Diplomacy in Mideast Raw: Truck, Train Crash Leads to Fireball Bodies of MH17 Victims Arrive in the Netherlands EPA Gets Hip With Kardashian Tweet
NDN Video
LeBron James -- Dropped $2k On Cupcake Apology ... Proceeds To Benefit Charity Snoop Dogg Says He Smoked Weed at the White House Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Chris Pratt Interrupts Interview To French Braid Intern's Hair Shirtless Super Mario Balotelli Dances While Ironing - @TheBuzzeronFOX Whoa! Watch "Housewives" Star Do the Unthinkable LeBron apologizes to neighbors with cupcakes Justin Bieber In Calvin Klein Underwear Shoot Samsung Pre-Trolls The IPhone 6 With New Ad Jimmy Kimmel Introduces His Baby Girl Swim Daily, Nina Agdal in the Cook Islands Guilty Dog Apologizes to Baby for Stealing Her Toy Prince George Turns 1 and is Already a Trendsetter Train Collides With Semi Truck Carrying Lighter Fluid Kanye West Tells-All on Wedding in "GQ" Interview Tony Dungy Weighs in on Michael Sam Scarlett Johansson Set To Marry In August New Star Wars Episode XII X-Wing Revealed Obama: Putin must push separatists to aid MH17 probe Michigan inmates no longer allowed to wear orange due to 'OITNB'

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -


    March 12, 2010