Most mornings, when you walk into the Hollywood Tavern in northeast Salem, you’ll be greeted by the back of Brooks Keebey’s head.
The 82-year-old has been a regular since 1972, and always sits where the bar bends. Even when he isn’t there, staff and regulars will nod to the empty chair on the corner when his name comes up.
On Monday, Keebey bought $10 in Powerball tickets, though he usually buys Keno tickets. Tuesday, he scanned it at the bar.
“I stuck the thing in there, and it says ‘see lottery,’” he said at the bar Thursday morning. Later, a staff member double checked by scanning the ticket on her phone.
“The app went and it just started exploding,” he laughed, and described the digital confetti across the screen. “And pretty soon it comes out with a million dollars.”
Keebey, who retired from truck driving in 2013, is one of two $1 million winners in the state, during what is the biggest jackpot run in lottery history according to Oregon Lottery.
He plans to spend the money on “taking care of business, that’s it,” he said. “I’m not in a big hurry to do anything.”
He plans to get his long-term partner Nancy a more accessible car with some trunk space. She’s been driving his 1970 Ford Torino.
“Nobody else drives that car,” he said. “Only five people have been behind the wheel… there’s only two other people still alive, besides myself.”
He also kept the oversized $1 million check, which his partner put above the fireplace at their home.
When bartender Amber Lisac, the owners’ daughter, asked where she should hang some smaller commemorative signs he shrugged. He’d prefer less attention.
“Not much I can do about it. I mean, the whole country knows now,” he said, and laughed.
It’s not the first time that the bar – or even Keebey’s household – has seen a winning ticket. Several years ago Lisac won around $74,000 with an 8-spot, then Keebey’s partner did a few weeks later.
“She called me the other day and she said ‘alright, you won an 8-spot then I won it. Well, we just got a Powerball so now it’s your turn,’” Lisac said.
On Wednesday, the evening that Keebey’s winning ticket was announced, bartender Katie Anderson breathlessly recounted the event while dashing between refilling drinks, closing tabs and opening beers.
Anderson was the one who sold Keebey the winning ticket.
“I think it’s the most craziest thing in the entire freaking world that I got to sell it,” she said, smiling. “Because I don’t think it will ever happen to me again.”
“Do you get anything for it?” Someone called from the bar.
“No,” she said, laughing.
The next morning though, Keebey expressed different plans.
“I’m going to do something nice for her, yet. Christmas is coming,” he said.
Contact reporter Abbey McDonald: [email protected] or 503-704-0355.
JUST THE FACTS, FOR SALEM – We report on your community with care and depth, fairness and accuracy. Get local news that matters to you. Subscribe to Salem Reporter. Click I want to subscribe!
Abbey McDonald joined the Salem Reporter in 2022. She previously worked as the business reporter at The Astorian, where she covered labor issues, health care and social services. A University of Oregon grad, she has also reported for the Malheur Enterprise, The News-Review and Willamette Week.