Cashing out

Greenwood man claims $175,000 prize in nationwide contest

tporter@lsjournal.comJuly 25, 2014 

  • $175,000

    Amount of money claimed by Greenwood resident Joe Flynn as winner of Visa’s Winter Olympic Games Trip for Life Sweepstakes. Instead of free trips to the Winter Olympics every four years, Flynn chose a one-time lump payment.

The cat is out of the bag for Joe Flynn and his wife Judy.

Flynn, a 20-year Greenwood resident, held tight – with the help of his wife and their grandson – a secret that was announced July 24 when the co-founder of engineering firm QM Power in Lee’s Summit claimed a $175,000 prize as part of a U.S. Bank/Visa promotion.

Flynn won the contest – Visa’s 2014 Winter Olympic Games Trip for Life Sweepstakes – as a result of using his U.S. Bank-issued Visa card during the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics. He estimated the chances of him winning the contest were nearly 1: 6,633,000,000.

Instead of accepting the Winter Olympics trips for life, the 64-year-old Flynn decided to take one lump sum payment.

“I would have taken tickets to all of the (upcoming) Winter Games every four years, but I’m an older person so I figured I wouldn’t get as many trips out of it,” Flynn said prior to a reception held in his honor July 24 at U.S. Bank’s Lee’s Summit branch location at 1559 NE Douglas Road. “Otherwise, I would have done it.”

Contacted by organizers of the promotion, Flynn first felt the call was a prank or possibly even a scam. A while later Judy Flynn thought it was a telemarketer calling. Not until a week later did it hit home that Joe Flynn was on the receiving end of a nice-sized check.

“When I got the call I didn’t believe it,” Flynn said. “They called from the bank and said we’d get a call from (the promotions company) so that we wouldn’t think it was a scam because that’s what you think when someone calls you up and tells you you’ve just won some sweepstake. It took me probably a week or so before I actually believed it.”

Judy Flynn added that only two other people knew about the winnings prior to the public announcement. One of the co-conspirators was the Flynn’s 19-year-old grandson whom they gave the honor of opening the check. The Flynn family promised a nice tuition payment for their grandchild – a student at Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville – in return for his silence.

“He opens the check and he goes, ‘holy crap,’” Joe Flynn said of his grandson’s reaction. “Then he says, ‘This is the biggest check I’ve ever seen.’”

“He kept the secret,” Judy Flynn added. “It was funny because he was mowing our grass when the truck pulled up to deliver the check. My grandson didn’t know what it was although he signed for it. We took him to dinner and swore him to secrecy.”

Chris Joseph, manager of U.S. Bank’s Douglas Square office in Lee’s Summit, said the branch feels like “‘a corner store that sold a winning lottery ticket.’”

“The Flynns are engaged members of the Lee’s Summit community who we’ve enjoyed getting to know,” Joseph said. “They’re certainly the type of people you love to see win something like this.”

The couple said they have already deposited the check into savings to incur interest and are still unsure of what they will do with the earnings. Joe Flynn said, as co-founder and majority shareholder of QW Power, he will probably use the winnings as an early retirement bonus.

“I’ve already put a huge amount (of investment) into the business, so this is going to be an early cash out to make up some of the money I put into it,” he said. “You never know how the outcome is going to be; I’m getting older. I’m going to throw it in savings … let it cool off for awhile and we’ll figure it out from there.”

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