SPRINGFIELD — A Springfield bartender won big this week, when a Keno ticket given to her as a tip turned out to be worth $17,500.
Aurora Kephart, 25, who has worked at Conway's Restaurant and Lounge in Springfield's Thurston neighborhood for almost four years, often receives unplayed Keno tickets as tips from a bar regular. On Tuesday evening, the male patron, who wishes to remain anonymous, bought a handful of Keno tickets and asked Kephart to choose the two she wanted.
When she checked the numbers, Kephart's first ticket won $5. Then the second yielded the big prize.
"The look on his face was incredible," Kephart said. "I automatically handed it back to him; it was his ticket."
But the patron wouldn't take the ticket and made Kephart sign it, so that she would be the only one able to collect the prize.
"The reaction (in the bar) was crazy," she said. "Everyone was so amped up. I mean how often does that happen somewhere like Thurston?
"The bar is 80 percent regulars, so everyone knows everyone. People were so excited for me."
With the bar busy, Kephart says she went right back to work, her brain "scrambled" by the big prize. The next day, she claimed her prize at the Oregon Lottery office in Salem.
Kephart says she gave the anonymous patron a percentage of her winnings.
"I just couldn't not give him some of it," she said.
As for her share of the money, Kephart says she's planning to buy a new couch and to save the rest.
Those modest plans have earned her plenty of teasing from the Conway's regulars.
But, as luck would have it, Kephart says she had spent the day Tuesday looking for a new couch, only to be deterred by the high prices.
"I never realized how expensive couches were," she said. "Instead of waiting till Christmas or later, now I can buy something I really need."
— The Register-Guard