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When Maximum Security crossed the finish line first on Saturday, Theresa Boissiere could be found celebrating in the rain, her self-tanner slowly running down her leg.
In her first trip back to Churchill Downs in 40 years, the Ohio woman had just won $250,000 on a bet she didn’t pay for.
The biggest losers from Maximum Security’s disqualification on Saturday at the Kentucky Derby include Mary and Gary West, who own the horse; gamblers, who missed out on at least $42 million in winnings; and Boissiere, who today, somehow, is just happy to have been there.
For the Derby, Rocket Mortgage held a sweepstakes that provided for 20 first prize winners to get an all-expenses-paid trip to the Oaks and the Derby with a companion, each worth $8,450, according to the company.
Boissiere was used to signing up for the sweepstakes on HGTV that gave one winner the dream home, “but I felt like this one was more obscure, so it would be easier to win.”
She felt like she had a chance. She had recently won a $250 gift certificate a local clothing store.
Boissiere did prevail as one of the 20.
When the winners arrived on Thursday, they were assigned numbers that corresponded to horses. Boissiere got No. 7.
She called up her mother, Maxine Stableton, a sports fan at 90 years old, and she told her daughter than the horse with her initials (MS) was a good one.
She went to the Oaks and watched the horses in the lead up to the Derby. From the finish line she watched the one they really counted.
“All of us were standing together,” Boissiere told The Action Network. “I was screaming when I won and I called my mom and told her.”
A few minutes later, word of the protest got around to Boissiere.
“I thought it was a photo finish or something,” she said.
It, of course, wasn’t. For the first time, in the 145-year history of the Kentucky Derby, a winner was taken down.
“I looked at the board and saw that the 7 was gone,” Boissiere said. “Like not in second, third or fourth. Just blasted off the board.”
While the contest was put on by Rocket Mortgage, the winner just received a lump sum $250,000 and didn’t need to spend it on a mortgage.
Boissiere and her husband were renters who had downsized after their kids went to college, so it would have been just cash, around $186,000, after taxes.
“It was like someone put it into our bank account and minutes later said insufficient funds,” Boissiere said.
The prize instead went to Allen Jefferson, who was tied to Country House.
“I was and still am in such disbelief,” Jefferson told The Action Network on Saturday night. “I still haven’t grasped the idea that the call was made in my favor.”
As for Boissiere, she says she’s not upset. She got a paid trip back to the Derby, something that she says she could never afford.
“I prayed to god to make it rain,” said Boissiere. “He did. The real rain.”