The lottery balls roll around during the lottery drawing for the Mega Millions jackpot on Tuesday in Atlanta. Two winning tickets sold in Georgia and California matched the numbers for the $648 million jackpot. (Reuters)
ATLANTA — Talk about a lucky seven.
A Georgia woman who played the birthdates of members of her family has won half of the $648 million Mega Millions jackpot, Georgia Lottery officials said Wednesday.
Ira Curry, 56, of Stone Mountain, purchased one of two winning jackpot tickets in Tuesday’s $648 million Mega Millions drawing. She claimed her prize Wednesday morning at Georgia Lottery headquarters.
“It’s unreal,” Curry said in a statement released through the lottery office. “It’s like I’m still dreaming.”
Winning Mega Millions ticket sold in Georgia
Two winning tickets from the second biggest ever jackpot in U.S. lottery history were sold in California and Georgia, officials say.
Curry, who did not appear at the lottery news conference Wednesday, purchased her lucky ticket at Gateway Newstand, 3500 Lenox Road, Atlanta. She selected the cash option, which amounts to $173,819,742.50 before taxes. Georgia state income tax of 6 percent and federal income tax of 25 percent are withheld from prizes of more than $5,000 at the time the prize is claimed, lottery officials said.
Curry was driving Wednesday morning when she heard the retailer location and one of the winning numbers on the radio. She asked her daughter to check her ticket and was stunned.
“I was calm because it was unbelievable,” she said, adding she hadn't had time to consider her plans.
Winning numbers from the drawing were: 8-14-17-20-39 and the Mega Ball was 7.
Curry said the numbers were a combination of family birthdays. She said that seven was the family’s lucky number.
It certainly was lucky Tuesday. Two Georgia tickets earned a million dollars each when they matched all five numbers but not the Mega Ball.
The purchaser of the second winning ticket sold in San Jose, Calif., has not come forward.
The jackpot had been an estimated $636 million if taken in its 30-year annuity form. Once all sales results were tallied Wednesday morning, however, the final jackpot amount for the drawing was $648 million, just shy of the Mega Millions record of $656 million on March 30, 2012. The cash value of Tuesday’s jackpot was $347.6 million, officials said.
Young Soo Lee, who owns the Gateway Newsstand, said she learned from Atlanta area television news that one of her customers had purchased a winning ticket, Reuters News Service reported.
“I’m so happy,” said Lee, who came to the United States from Korea in 1980 and bought the newsstand located in an office building on Lenox Road nine years ago.
Lee said even her customers who did not win were sharing in the excitement.
“Everybody is a hug, a hug, a hug,” said Lee, who will receive a bonus from the lottery for selling a winning ticket.
Another winning ticket was purchased at a retail location named Jennifer’s Gift Shop on Tully Road in San Jose, according to Alex Traverso, a lottery official in California, Reuters reported.
The players each overcame astounding odds. The chance of a ticket matching the winning numbers was 1 in 259 million.
“It was a great run,” said Paula Otto, Virginia Lottery Executive Director and Lead Director for Mega Millions. “We have two jackpot winners, but the important programs supported by the 45 Mega Millions lotteries are the real winners. During this 22-drawing run, the lotteries generated more than $300 million in profits for those programs.”
In addition to the two jackpot-winning tickets, game officials said, there were 20 $1 million winners, and a large number of tickets won smaller prizes. The “Megaplier,” an option for ticket buyers that multiplies those lesser prizes, was four. That means a ticket that normally would be worth $100 would be worth $400 if the buyer bought that option.
The next Mega Millions drawing is Friday when the jackpot will be an estimated $15 million.
The next drawing for a multimillion-dollar jackpot in Georgia is tonight’s Powerball game. Its jackpot to a single winner is $50 million.