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Florida lottery winner’s Maine hometown overjoyed he won the big prize

Shane Missler walked down Mandalay Avenue in Clearwater Beach in March 2017 and stopped at a statue of Hulk Hogan for the perfect photo op.

With one armed flexed and the other shot straight out, he had his picture taken next to the famed wrestler while striking the Hulkster’s signature pose. Above Missler’s head, perfectly captured in the photo’s frame, were the words "Filthy Rich."

Sure, it was the name of a jewelry store, but it was also an incredible bit of foreshadowing.

Nicholas Guild, the friend Missler was with the day the photo was taken, laughs at it now. It’s as if Missler was always waiting for something great to happen, according to the high school buddy.

"He knew he was destined for it," said Guild, 21.

Missler, 20, of Port Richey, this week became the sole winner of the fourth-largest Mega Millions jackpot of all time: $451 million. He opted to take the lump-sum payment and, after taxes, his winnings came to $211,406,249.25.

Since then, Missler has been dodging the spotlight, other than releasing some prepared statements and a Facebook status thanking everyone for their well wishes.

PREVIOUS STORY: Florida man, 20, claims $450M Mega Millions jackpot

His phone is blowing up, his social media is flooded with money-hungry commenters, and the community in Maine where he grew up is stunned but overjoyed.

"He is a great kid and has a heart of gold," said former classmate Anthony York, 21.

Missler is from a small town outside Augusta, Maine, and graduated with about 140 students from Spruce Mountain High School in 2015. He played baseball and soccer and managed the school’s basketball team.

When his dad got a new job in Florida shortly after graduation, Missler came down to the Sunshine State with him.

Back in Maine, Missler is the talk of the town. Guild has had several people ask him if he’s still close with his former soccer teammate. The two last saw each other during Guild’s Clearwater vacation in March.

"He’s one of the most inspirational people I know," Guild said. "He’s told me so many times not to waste my potential."

In Florida, Missler had a job at local background screening company, which he has since happily left.

Guild said Missler is close with his father, Stephen Missler. His mother died in 2006 from cancer, Guild said, bringing the Missler brood — the couple had another son and two daughters — even closer together.

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"His dad did a lot for him," Guild said. "I know he’s going to pay him back and do something smart with the money."

In August, Missler posted on social media he couldn’t wait to win the Powerball that coming Saturday. Friends say Missler is wise beyond his age and has always been positive and certain good fortune was headed his way.

In other ways, Missler is what you’d expect a 20-year-old to be. He loves Boston sports teams, the Celtics especially. In 2016 he paid cash for his first car, a 2004 Suburu Outback.

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He is a huge boxing and wrestling fan. The Rocky movies are among his favorite — he once ran through the back roads of Jay, Maine, after soccer practice, behind Guild’s truck much like Sylvester Stallone’s character.

At 20, Guild said, Missler was still figuring out what career he wanted to pursue. He was dreaming of owning a piece of property with enough space for a dog — but figured it wouldn’t come until he was a bit older.

"Live the life you’ve always wanted," Guild texted his friend after he heard the news. Missler sent back, "thanks, brother."

Missler last visited his friends and family in Maine around Christmas. Guild couldn’t get off work at his convenience store job to see him.

"Gotta pay the bills," Guild said with a laugh.

We all can’t be lottery winners, after all.

Contact Sara DiNatale at sdinatale@tampabay.com. Follow @sara_dinatale.

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Florida lottery winner’s Maine hometown overjoyed he won the big prize