Gardiner residents Ricci Abbott, right, and her son Nick, are seen Friday in Augusta with Emerson, bottom left and Scout, right. Ricci said she is investing her recent lottery winnings in Nick’s pet waste management business called Poopah Scoopah. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

GARDINER — When Ricci Abbott bought a lottery ticket in June she, like millions of other Powerball players across the country, didn’t win the jackpot.

She didn’t win the grand prize in Powerball’s NASCAR second-chance drawing that she entered, either.

But Abbott, an asset manager for MaineHousing, found out Sunday she will take home $10,000 in winnings from a lower level of that game. She is the second person with Maine ties to take home a large lottery prize this week, after a ticket sold at the Handy Stop on Bridge Street in Howland won its buyer, whose name has not been revealed, $2 million in the Oct. 7 Powerball drawing.

What Abbott plans to do with her bounty promises to turn the one-time windfall into a lasting payoff.

Abbott said she wants to invest the net proceeds — she’ll have to pay taxes on the winnings — in Poopah Scoopah, the pet waste management and lawn care business her son Nick started in 2022.

That Nick, 35, would start such a business is not a surprise to anyone who knows him. He’s always loved dogs, and he’s had his own dog-related moment in the spotlight. In 2019, Abbott, who is deaf, came across a Facebook post from NFR Maine, a foster-based dog rescue, about a deaf puppy in need of a home.


The dog, a black Lab mix, and his littermates had been rescued from Florida, where they were neglected. While the other puppies had been adopted, Emerson was still in need of a home.

Nick filled out an application, and when man and dog first met, the connection was instantaneous. He adopted the puppy, training him with hand signals. The story caught the attention of national media at the time and was the subject of a children’s book, “I Picked Him: A Nick and Emerson Story.”

Nick opted to start his own business because after working for five years at a large corporation, he said he couldn’t see a path to grow, even with his degree in public administration. And often, he said, the company failed to provide interpreters for significant events like meetings and safety trainings.

“The more I thought about it, the more I was motivated to start a company where deaf people can be successful and thrive,” he said, via text message while on his rounds. “I am so glad this is the business I chose. I completely enjoy my customers and being able to be around dogs all day every day.”

Nick, who lives in Gardiner, has clients from Waterville to York and is on the road every day. He said business is going well.

“This service is so great for so many different people,” he said. “People who live hectic lives with busy schedules and limited time, people recovering from an injury that prevents them from getting out and especially the elderly who want to enjoy the companionship of of a dog but may not be physically able to clean the yard.”


“He’s out there making it happen,” Ricci said.

Recently, the business has been bringing in enough revenue to put him on the verge of hiring his first employee, she added.

“This will help me toward stability in hiring an employee and provide me additional time to work on growing my business and, of course, repaying the investment down the road,” Nick said.

Ricci currently helps with making phone calls and scheduling, but as the business grows, she said she plans to step back from that.

In June, Ricci entered her losing ticket online in the NASCAR Powerball Playoff, a second-chance drawing promotion for the national lottery. She didn’t think anything more about it until she returned from camp on July 4 to find a letter in mailbox.

Maine Lottery did not respond by press time to an inquiry about how popular second-chance games are.


Of all the entrants, hers was one of 10 tickets in Maine selected for the promotion. For that, she received $5,000 and a chance to move on to the next round, which featured winners from about two dozen other states taking part in the promotion.

Each round was tied to a NASCAR race. Ricci survived the round of 16 and round of 12, but was eliminated during the round of 8 drawing on Oct. 8. For that, she won an additional $5,000. The promotion will continue until a $1 million winner is picked in November in conjunction with the NASCAR Cup Series Championship at Phoenix Raceway.

“Not bad for a losing ticket,” she said.

Ricci is not a regular lottery player, but she pays more attention to Powerball when the jackpots start getting big, and yes, she has been playing Powerball this week as the jackpot ballooned to $1.73 billion, the second-largest jackpot in U.S. history.

She had no better luck with that jackpot; a single ticket buyer in California will claim that prize.

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