WATERTOWN — Getting in touch with Carl Loppnow of Lebanon is much more difficult today than it once was.
Early Thursday morning, the Wisconsin Lottery announced Loppnow as the winner of a $2.8 million payout from eight SuperCash! top prize wins in the June 20 drawing.
The 58-year-old had purchased two tickets at Breslow’s Family Market, 100 E. Cady St., and two more at Kwik Trip, 1184 N. Fourth St., in Watertown. All had the same winning numbers: 1-12-13-18-26-29.
A call to his cell phone yielded a robotic voice declaring, “The caller you are trying to reach has a voicemail that has not been set up yet. Goodbye.” A visit to his home in Lebanon was met with shuttered windows, closed curtains and the barks of a small dog, yet nobody came to the door.
A former longtime owner of Loppy’s Bar in Ixonia, Loppnow once was an easy man to find. Loppy’s patrons and workers couldn’t contain their excitement for Loppnow upon hearing the news. Many were quick to mention his kindness to his customers, workers and community members.
“He was a really nice guy and would do anything for his workers,” Loppy’s bartender Rachel Ovadal said. “He would help anybody out and was a great boss.”
“Good guy,” Oconomowoc resident and Loppy’s regular Bob Bratz said. “I knew his family, his dad and his mother. I used to play softball with him and we would come back here and get a few drinks. Real nice guy and a good kid.”
The building of Loppy’s was not just a business for Loppnow, but home. Loppnow’s parents, Harold and Julie “Jules” Loppnow, opened the bar in 1960 when Carl was just six months old. The family used it as their home, living in the space above the bar, Carl’s older sister, Lois Wiedenhoeft, said.
Wiedenhoeft, president and CEO of Ixonia’s Forward Mutual Insurance Company, described her younger brother as “truly local” with a passion for his community.
“He has lived in Watertown, Lebanon and Ixonia his whole life,” Wiedenhoeft said. “The community, his family and the church are very important to him. Everyone is very important to him and all of us. People become a part of who you are.”
Loppy’s Bar was a part of Loppnow’s life from the day his parents opened it in 1960 until Thursday, when Loppnow sold the bar to Donald VonReuden and it changed it’s name to Von Loppy’s. Loppnow took over the bar in 2005 after his father died, and leaving his bar and past home was not easy.
“He even started tearing up when he said it was his last day,” Ovadal said. “I even started crying. I felt bad for him.”
Wiedenhoeft said it was the right moment for Carl.
“It’s the right time, the right moment,” Wiedenhoeft said. “When everything comes to play for you, you go with your heart.”
Although the name and ownership has changed, Loppy’s is still alive and well within the exposed wooden walls of the bar with the name still displayed prominently throughout. During a lunchtime rush, the murmurs and chatter of regulars filled the chicken-scented air as each arriving patron was greeted with the news.
“What’s he gonna do now with all that time?” one patron asked.
“The rich get richer, that’s what they say,” another patron said with a laugh.
Over a bowl of Loppy’s $4 chili special, Keith “Cuz” Loppnow, a longtime Loppy’s patron and close friend who is no relation to Carl’s family, described Carl as an outgoing and very kind guy. Keith said he hopes Carl will be able to enjoy retirement with his recent good fortune.
“I’m happy for him; hopefully he can retire,” Keith said. “(It’s) a nice 60th birthday present. I wouldn’t turn it down.”
Many were perplexed by Carl’s ability to keep the secret from June 20 when he found out he had won to last Monday when he cashed in his tickets. In fact, Carl kept it so hidden he didn’t even tell his sister until Monday.
“He told me on Monday. He didn’t want me to see it in the paper,” Wiedenhoeft said. “He asked me if I was sitting down, which I was. When he told me I said, ‘Say again?’ We’re all excited for him. We’re just thrilled and happy for him and Laura.”
Wiedenhoeft described the experience as fun and a “kind of miracle” that doesn’t happen in a normal day.
“It’s a cool opportunity you’d never think would happen,” Widenhoeft said. “If you’re blessed with an unreal opportunity, it is unreal. You don’t believe your eyes. You don’t believe the ticket.”
According to Ovadal, Carl always would play the same numbers on the SuperCash! and happened to buy the tickets picking up bread for the bar from Breslow’s. Although Carl’s plans for the money are not entirely known, he would like to do traveling and already planned a trip to Disney, according to Ovadal.
Ovadal was surprised upon hearing the news, but felt she should’ve known sooner.
“I heard hints all along,” Ovadal said. “I didn’t put it together. I should’ve known all along.”
Wiedenhoeft wouldn’t speak on her brother’s plans either, but did speak for him on the whole ordeal.
“All he would say is that he wants to enjoy retirement,” she said.
Wiedenhoeft also mentioned an old saying her father would say about the lottery.
“My dad used to say. ‘If you don’t play, you don’t win,’” Wiedenhoeft said. “The best word is ‘cool.’ I thought it was so cool.”
Cindy Polzin, Wisconsin’s Lottery director, released a statement on Carl’s winnings.
“We’re excited for Carl and his family on this big win. We often see lottery players choosing their own lucky numbers and purchasing tickets at different locations. Since SuperCash! is a game that does not have a shared jackpot, some players choose to play the same numbers multiple times for the same drawing. June 20 was Carl’s fortunate night!” the statement read.
The only communication Carl or his wife Laura left was a photo shared to the Loppy’s Bar Facebook page. Although it said nothing about his winnings, the photo showed what all Carl was about: his business, his community and his kindness.
“We want to say thank you to everyone for supporting us since we took over Loppy’s in 2005,” the photo reads. “We’ve been blessed with great employees and wonderful family who have supported us over the years. It is our employees and you, the customers, that we will truly miss. We cherish the friends we have made and fondly remember the smiles and laughs of those customers/friends that were taken from us too soon. Thank you to all and we hope to see you soon! — Carl and Laura.”
All attempts to make contact with Carl were not answered or returned. Photo requests of Carl were made to Wiedenhoeft, who turned down the opportunity to “respect his privacy.”
The top prize for one play of SuperCash! is $350,000, and since Carl purchased eight plays, his payout was $2.8 million, according to the Wisconsin Lottery. This payout figure is before taxes and the actual payout of the winning after taxes is approximately $1.9 million, according to the Wisconsin Lottery.
The odds of winning the $350,000 SuperCash! top prize are one in 1,631,312, according to the Wisconsin Lottery. SuperCash! is drawn daily after 9 p.m. and two plays cost $1. Each ticket comes with two plays. Tickets must be purchased before 9 p.m. to be included in that day’s drawing.