Todd Moitz has always considered himself a rich man. It’s just that now he has the bank account to back it up.
A passionate hockey guy who lights up when talk turns to the ice, Moitz now has even more reasons to smile – 32 million reasons.
Overnight, the 24-year-old insurance salesman who drove a Zamboni to make ends meet now dwells in the same economic stratosphere as NHL superstars. But you wouldn’t know it by talking to him.
Yes, life has been pretty good since he defied the 1 in 176 million odds by matching six numbers on his lottery ticket early in January. But rather than focus on his newfound riches, Moitz is far more comfortable discussing his recent pond hockey experience, or the thrill of seeing Patrick Kane play live over the Thanksgiving holiday.
“Hockey is my sanctuary,” says Moitz, who won a $47 million jackpot from the California Mega Millions lottery. He took the cash option, which left him with a pretax payout of $32 million.
“No matter what’s going on in the world or in my life, once I get into an ice rink, I’m alive.”
It seems like a reasonable question to ask if his winning numbers – 2, 11, 19, 21, 34 and 38 – had any hockey-specific meaning. No, he says, before rattling off NHL players who have worn the corresponding uniform numbers. What else would you expect from a lifelong New Jersey Devils fan?
Other than that, he shies away from all the attention that comes with such a windfall, steering clear of interviews. Moitz opted to talk to USA Hockey Magazine because he’s been reading it since he was a 10-year-old player with the American Eagles travel team in Wall, N.J.
Hockey has always played a big part in his life, from youth hockey to his high school days at St. John Vianney. It was only after high school that hockey took a back seat to his studies at the University of Delaware, where he received a double major in finance and marketing and a double minor in economics and international business.
Still, he found time to play on both a club roller hockey team and in weekly pickup games. He also stuck close to the rink by getting a job at the Fred Rust Ice Arena, first as a skate guard and then as a Zamboni driver and eventually as a rink supervisor.
It wasn’t long after graduating that Moitz packed his bags and headed west. But even before arriving in San Diego, he made sure he had taken care of life’s essentials.
“There were three things that I did when I came out here: I looked for a place to live, a job and the nearest ice hockey rink,” says Moitz, who quickly landed a part-time job as a Zamboni driver at the San Diego Ice Arena in nearby Mira Mesa.
While he doesn’t like to discuss his future plans, such as whether he’ll continue to work in the insurance business, Moitz is not ready to sit back and count his money. He is, however, counting down the days until he returns to the rink.
“Things are starting to get back to normal, which means that the sooner they get back to normal, the sooner I can start playing hockey more often,” says Moitz, who adds that he’ll continue to buy lottery tickets in the future.
While many dream of winning millions of dollars, Todd Moitz isn’t letting his $32 million go to his head. He’s sticking close to hockey, playing pick-up hockey when he gets a chance and driving the Zamboni at the San Diego Ice Arena.
“I wouldn’t mind working at the rink one or two days a week. I joke with people that I’d like to be the world’s richest Zamboni driver.”
He would like to play pickup hockey a couple of days a week or perhaps join a men’s league team. He also has his eye on coaching again. Having coached at various levels, from Squirts to Midgets, Moitz is ready to work with kids again.
“The best thing I can do is to coach kids and try to give them some of the experiences that I had when I was growing up,” he says. “I learned a lot from my coaches, and I feel that the best way for me to repay them is by becoming a coach myself.”
In the meantime, Moitz is glad to be back on the ice. His first return to the rink was a welcome reprieve from all the attention that has been focused his way.
“My friends have been very supportive and very nice. When it comes to hockey players, the more you joke around with each other in the locker room the more you know that everything is normal,” says Moitz.
“My friends don’t look at me any differently now. They still pass me the puck. Of course they’re all saying that I have to buy my own rink now so we can all play for free.”
And Moitz knows that if he ever lets all that money go to his head, his friends will be there to bring him back down to ice level.
“I’ll be the same guy I’ve always been. It’s just that now I can buy lots of hockey sticks,” says Moitz. “I don’t plan on changing my lifestyle or my principles.
Those are the things that will always stay with me no matter how much money I have or how many zeroes are in my account. That’s who I am and that’s who I’ll continue to be.”