New York Couple Claims $165,000,000 Prize

High school sweethearts Richard and Mary Morrison of Miller Place, Suffolk County are New York's first Lottery Millionaires of 2010 and Long Island's largest Lottery jackpot winners of all time! The lucky couple purchased the sole jackpot winning ticket for what they thought was a $162,000,000 Mega Millions jackpot drawn on December 22, 2009. The actual dollar value of the jackpot was increased to $165,000,000 based on strong sales across all 12 participating Mega Million states for that particular drawing.

The reality of being $165,000,000 richer overnight began to sink in for Mary Morrison, a self-employed massage therapist, as she watched the winning numbers from the previous night's drawing scroll across her TV screen the next morning. "I was already screaming when I ran in to wake up Richard," she said. "He calmed me down and together we double-checked the winning numbers on the Lottery's website (nylottery.org)." Richard Morrison, a self-employed psychotherapist, said his first thought after confirming the couple's good fortune was simple: Good things really do happen to good people.

"There is justice in believing in divine justice," he said. Morrison noted that the couple and their six children have overcome some financial stress in the past by holding on to the simple belief that there is no better way to help yourself than by helping others.

"I believe in luck," said Mary Morrison. "I believe my luck comes from who I am and what I have done in life." Morrison's husband sees it a little differently. "I see it more as fate," he said. "It's about doing the right thing and being an honest, genuine person." Either way, the couple agrees the end result is "surreal."

Mary Morrison purchased the couple's life-changing ticket on December 21, 2009 while doing some last minute Christmas shopping with two of her six daughters at the Cards & Things store on Route 25A in Rocky Point. "We were buying Christmas angels to give as presents," she recalled. "We noticed the jackpot sign at the register and decided, 'why not?'"

Morrison spent $5 for five sets of numbers for the December 22nd drawing. She selected the first set of six numbers based on the ages of her children and asked for four more randomly generated numbers or "Quick Picks." The last set of Quick Pick numbers - 3 33 35 39 45 and 13 - proved to be the lucky combination worth $165,000,000. The Morrisons claimed their winning ticket on January 4th at the Lottery's Customer Service Center in Fishkill.

At the time she purchased the ticket, Morrison opted to receive the jackpot prize as a lump sum payment representing the current cash value of the advertised jackpot. When they claimed the prize, the Morrisons further opted to split their prize evenly. Mary and Richard Morrison will each receive a fifty percent share of the lump sum amount. Their individual checks will total about $51,083,592 before taxes and other withholdings or $33,730,496 after taxes.

"I'm free to do the things I want to do," said Mary Morrison, with her husband adding, "We can make some changes that we never thought possible." Topping the couple's "To Do" list is planning for a "lavish" reception to mark the couple's upcoming 40th wedding anniversary. Other plans include, but are not limited to, opening a not-for-profit business and establishing a foundation to continue the family's efforts to help others.

The New York Lottery continues to be North America's largest and most profitable Lottery, earning more than $36.7 billion in education support statewide since its founding over 40 years ago. The Lottery contributed nearly $2.54 billion in fiscal year 2008-09 to help support education in New York State, which was 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.