Change in Strategy Brings Change of Luck for New York Mega Millions Winner

Recently retired MSG employee opts to receive $168,000,000 prize as annuity


James “Jimmy” Groves is no stranger to New York’s Mega Millions game. The 49-year-old grandfather of one has been buying his Quick Pick tickets for the twice weekly multi-state game since the first Mega drawing in May 2002. His loyalty paid off last month as the former Madison Square Garden employee today accepted his 50 percent share of a $336,000,000 Mega Millions jackpot from the drawing held on August 28, 2009.

“It’s a gift from God, no doubt,” said Groves who recently retired from the Garden after 18 years on the job. “I can think of 168,000,000 reasons why this was a good time to retire.”

Groves credits his $168,000,000 win on a last minute change to his ticket purchasing strategy.  “I play Mega every week and 99 percent of the time I go with the lump sum (payout option) like everybody else,” he explained. “This time I went with the annuity thinking a little change like that might bring a change of luck.”  The Lottery estimates only four percent of New York’s Mega Millions players elect to receive their jackpot prize as an annuity payout for any given Mega Millions drawing. The vast majority of players, 96 percent, choose the cash value or “lump sum” payout option.  
 
As a result of choosing the annuity, Groves will receive his $168,000,000 prize in 26 gross annual payments totaling more than $6,400,000 each. He will receive an annual net check totaling just over $4,000,000 through 2035.

Groves learned of his good fortune the day after the drawing from a print out of the winning numbers he requested from a Lottery retailer near his home. “I checked the numbers at home and called my brother. He came over to calm me down, but we both ended up pacing the apartment until it was time for me to go to work. I also called my mom in Tennessee. She was here the next day.”

Groves claimed his winning ticket at the Lottery’s offices in New York City on September 1st. His win puts the self-described “homebody” in the record books as New York’s largest jackpot winner ever; toppling the record formerly held by Juan Rodriguez of Richmond Hills, Queens, who claimed a $149,000,000 Mega Millions jackpot in November 2004. Aubrey Boyce of Kew Gardens, Queens rounds out the top three richest New York Lottery jackpot winners. Boyce claimed his $133,000,000 Mega Millions jackpot in July.

Other recent Mega Millions jackpot winners from New York include Janet Alnwick of Merrick who won $22,000,000 in January of this year, Isabel Zelaya of Wyandanch who won $26,000,000 in March and the Silverbush Family of Syracuse who split a $35,000,000 Mega Millions jackpot in May. 

Groves said his immediate plans for his share of the $336,000,000 jackpot he split with another player from California are simple, “I’m going to take care of my mom and my children. I’m going to buy a house with a backyard. And, I’m going to travel the world. Beyond that,” he added, “It’s hard to say.  I’m thinking about the here and now.”

The jackpot roll up which started on July 10, 2009 and culminated with the August 28th Mega Millions drawing for a jackpot of $336,000,000 generated $50,000,000 in Lottery aid to education in just over seven weeks.

The winning numbers for the August 28, 2009 Mega Millions drawing were: 37 – 1 – 17 – 31 - 54, Mega Ball 31.

The New York Lottery contributed nearly $2.54 billion in fiscal year 2008-9 to help support education in New York State, over 12 percent of total state education funding to local school districts.  The Lottery’s ongoing commitment to education also includes the awarding of more than 1,100 Leaders of Tomorrow (LOT) Scholarships annually to high school students pursuing their higher education in New York State.  Since 1999, the Lottery has awarded more than 11,500 scholarships representing a total commitment of almost $50 million.  The New York Lottery continues to be North America’s largest and most profitable Lottery, earning over $36.7 billion in education support statewide since its founding over 40 years ago.