As customer service manager for the Missouri Lottery, Terry Schoonover delights in confirming the wildest dreams of the state's winning lottery players.
Schoonover started working for Missouri Lottery in August 2011 as an inside sales representative, helping sell ticket orders to retailers. But he quickly moved into management in March 2013. In his new position, Schoonover handles the calls and e-mails from players and meets with those who have won $600 or more.
"It's been happening a lot," he said, noting a Columbia woman recently won the "$3,000,000 Taxes Paid" Scratchers game. "The instantaneous look on her face ... it's amazing to be near that."
When potential winners first approach the lottery's headquarters in Jefferson City, they are filled with trepidation, because they don't really believe they've won until they've had their hopes confirmed by authorities, he said.
"Helping award these prizes is very, very fulfilling," he said. "Not only because the winners are so grateful and happy, but also because lottery proceeds support public education."
In fiscal year 2013, the lottery sent $288 million to education.
Schoonover, who grew up in St. Louis, moved to Columbia to attend the University of Missouri in the 1990s. He graduated from MU in 1997 with a theater degree. Currently, he's the president of The Little Theatre of Jefferson City.
Over the years, Schoonover has been a regular presence in both Little Theatre and Scene One productions. He'll next take the stage in the Scene One production "Night Watch," a thriller that steadily builds a sense of suspense for its audience.
Schoonover said the theater groups offer two distinct styles. Scene One is so intimate it allows the audience to see the nuances of a performance; Little Theatre offers the community the chance to see Broadway-style shows.
Schoonover is married to Claudia Schoonover, who works as assistant director at the Jefferson City Public Library. Together, the couple have two children, 11-year-old Joel and 9-year-old Lydia.