California Winner Claims $324 Million Mega Millions Prize!

RELEASE DATE: 1/3/2014

SACRAMENTO – Exciting news this hour from the California Lottery. The person who bought the Mega Millions jackpot-winning ticket in San Jose has finally claimed his $324 million prize. His name is Steve Tran. He arrived late Thursday afternoon at the California Lottery’s Sacramento District Office. The Northern California man didn’t really feel like talking with reporters, but he is allowing us to share more of his exciting story.

Like so many of you, Tran said he couldn’t help but drop some bills trying to hit the jackpot in the draw on December 17. Why not? There was more than half a billion dollars on the line. He was thrilled watching the San Jose story play out on the news the following day. “Everybody was anxious, looking for the person,” Tran said about the media coverage. He couldn’t help but think, “Must be a lucky man.” At that moment, Tran says he didn’t know the Lottery player the nation was looking for was him.

Tran says he and his family like to visit San Jose because there is a large Vietnamese community there, plus they can eat and shop. On the Saturday before the draw, they stopped by Jennifer’s Gift Shop, which is located at 1818 Tully Road in San Jose (Santa Clara County) and bought five Quick Pick® tickets.

Here’s where things become a little muddy, but help explain why he took so long to claim his giant prize. Tran said he added that ticket to a pile of other Lottery tickets he had purchased in multiple other towns while making his runs as a delivery driver. According to Tran, the entire lot ended up “Just sitting in my house, on top of my drawer.”

That’s right. The golden ticket was sitting there waiting to be discovered. The family, meanwhile, has been on vacation. They only recently returned home. Tran said he was exhausted, but out of nowhere, something clicked. “I woke up in the middle of the night. I remembered, I think I went to San Jose.”

It was around 3:00 a.m. Monday. Tran said he checked his tickets and discovered he had hit the jackpot. The wife got a smile and a massive hug. Tran has also informed some other family members.

He said he phoned his boss and left a message that went something like this: “I’m really sorry boss. I hit the jackpot. I don’t think I’m going to come in today, tomorrow, or ever.”

That’s because this Lottery winner is checking out, among his plans, yet another vacation … One that just might run a couple of months.

The California ticket holder shares that prize with another jackpot winner in Georgia. Split between the two tickets, it comes to a total of $324 million per winning ticket. The cash equivalent for each ticket is $173.8 million before federal taxes. Tran has 60 days to select his payment option.  

Tran’s ticket successfully matched the numbers 8, 20, 14, 17, 39 and the Mega number 7. The store owner, Thuy Nguyen, who says he bought his store only four months ago, is also receiving a $1 million retailer bonus just for selling the lucky ticket!

Here are some quick facts about the win:
·  Total final jackpot amount: $648 million (2nd largest jackpot in U.S. history).
·  The jackpot will be split between the winners in Georgia and California. Each winner will receive $324 million each.
·  If each winner decides to take the cash option, the lump sum will be $173.8 million each (before taxes)
·  The federal tax rate is 25%. The California winner does not have to pay state tax on the win.

The mission of the California Lottery is to provide supplemental funding to California schools while simultaneously supporting local communities. More than 96 cents of every dollar spent by our players goes back to local communities in the form of contributions to public schools and colleges, prizes and retail compensation. The California Lottery urges its customers to play responsibly and within their budgets. If you feel you have a gambling problem, or know someone who does, you can get help at 1-800-GAMBLER.

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