December 18, 2013

One of two Mega Millions jackpot winners in ‘state of disbelief’

A Georgia woman takes a lump sum of $123 million. The other lucky Mega Millions ticket was sold in San Jose, Calif.

By Johnny Clark
The Associated Press

ATLANTA – A Georgia woman who bought just one ticket and used family birthdays and lucky No. 7 to choose her numbers was one of two winners of the $636 million Mega Millions jackpot, the second-largest in U.S. history.

click image to enlarge

Jenny’s Gift Shop owner Thuy Nguyen, left, is congratulated by a customer Wednesday in San Jose, Calif., after his shop sold one of two lucky winning tickets in Tuesday’s near-record $636 million Mega Millions drawing. He’ll get $1 million for selling the winning ticket. The other was sold at a tiny newsstand in Atlanta.

The Associated Press

click image to enlarge

A clerk prepares to operate a lottery machine to print out Mega Millions lottery tickets for a customer at Tobacco Plus, in Muncie, Ind., Tuesday.

The Associated Press

Lottery officials in Georgia identified the winner as Ira Curry, of Stone Mountain, which is east of Atlanta. Curry will take a lump sum of $123 million after taxes, Georgia Lottery chief executive Debbie Alford said.

"She has not decided how she'll spend those winnings," Alford said at a news conference that Curry did not attend.

The other winning ticket was sold at a gift shop in San Jose, Calif. There winner there has one year to come forward.

Curry was driving to work Wednesday when an announcer on the radio talked about the Mega Ball being 7. Curry knew that was her Mega Ball number, so she called her daughter to check the ticket.

"Between joyful tears and laughter on the daughter's part, she relayed to her mother that her mother had won the lottery," Alford said.

Alford wouldn't say where Curry worked or how old she was. A person who answered the phone at a listing for Curry said, "We are not interested in any publicity, thank you for calling" and then hung up.

Curry, her husband and other family members came to the lottery headquarters to claim the prize, surprising lottery officials who thought the winner may take some time to get their affairs in order before coming forward.

Alford said she didn't think Curry believed she had won until lottery officials told her congratulations.

"She said she was just in a state of disbelief," Alford said.

The winning ticket in Georgia was sold at a newsstand in Buckhead, a financial center of Atlanta about 10 miles from Stone Mountain Park. The park features an 825-foot-tall mountain that covers about 1 square mile. There are golf courses, camping, bike and walking trails there as well as a carving depicting Confederate heroes of the Civil War, including Gen. Robert E. Lee.

Curry's house is just a few miles from the park. A man who answered the door at her home in a neighborhood of brick and stucco houses with manicured lawns also said the family did not want to speak. The two-story home had a two-car garage and a basketball hoop.

Neighbor Kaliah Ladler, 18, said the Curry family was humble.

"Some people get big headed but I don't think they'll get big headed. They will probably use it for good," she said.

Francis Boudreaux, who lives across the street from the Currys, said he was happy for the family but sad because they will probably move now.

"I think they will start doing a whole lot of traveling," he said.

The ticket was sold at the Gateway Newsstand in the Alliance Center building, which is home to a variety of offices, including lawyers, financial services professionals and even the Brazilian Consulate General.

The newsstand is a small, narrow shop with one register. It can hold about 10 people at a time and it is located near the lobby.

Young Soo Lee owns the store with her husband, Young Lee. She grinned as she arrived Wednesday morning.

"I'm so excited and so happy now," Young Soo Lee said. "I love my store and the customer."

Earlier media reports indicated the couple would receive a bonus for selling a winning ticket, but Georgia Lottery spokeswoman Tandi Reddick clarified that's not the case.

(Continued on page 2)

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