SECOND-LARGEST VIRGINIA PRIZE IS WORTH THE WAIT
They say good things come to those who wait. Steve Williams of Shenandoah would probably agree. For nearly five months he waited, holding a Mega Millions ticket that he knew was worth $200 million. Finally, on March 12, 2010, he officially claimed his prize, becoming the second-largest winner in the Virginia Lottery’s history.
He found out he was a mega-winner when he went to his favorite store, Valley’s at 601 4th Street in Shenandoah, and made a pot of coffee. He always makes the morning coffee at the store, even though he doesn’t work there.
“It’s just to have something to do,” he explained. “I’m a person who likes to be doing something.”
That morning, the clerk pointed to a banner being hung outside the store, proclaiming that someone had bought a jackpot-winning ticket there for the previous night’s Mega Millions drawing. So Mr. Williams pulled out his ticket for the October 16, 2009, drawing and let the clerk check it. Sure enough, the ticket matched all six numbers.
“I didn’t need to jump up and down,” he said. “She was doing enough for both of us!”
On March 12, he received his check from Virginia Lottery Executive Director Paula Otto in a presentation at James Madison University in Harrisonburg. Rather than take the full jackpot amount over 26 years, Mr. Williams chose to take the cash option of $125 million. The store received a $50,000 retailer bonus from the Virginia Lottery for selling the jackpot-winning ticket.
“This is the second-largest prize ever won by a Virginia Lottery player,” said Ms. Otto. “We are delighted, not just for Mr. Williams’ incredible prize, but also the millions of dollars the Virginia Lottery raises for K-12 public education in Virginia each year.”
The winning numbers for that drawing were 10-13-18-33-51 and the Mega Ball number was 43. He used the Easy Pick function, in which the computer randomly selected the numbers on his ticket. This is the sixth Mega Millions jackpot won in Virginia since the game began in May 2002.
Mr. Williams, who works as a carpenter, said he waited to claim his prize so he could assemble and meet with financial and legal advisors to plan for his future.
The state tax withholding on Mr. Williams’ prize resulted in $5 million for Virginia coffers. The Lottery is required by law to withhold 4 percent in state tax and 25 percent in federal tax.
There were more than 83,000 winning tickets bought in Virginia for the October 16 Mega Millions drawing, including four $10,000 winners.
Nearly 95 cents of each dollar spent on the Virginia Lottery by players goes back to the Commonwealth in the form of contributions to education, prizes and retailer commissions. Since 1999, all Virginia Lottery profits have been designated solely to K-12 public school education in the Commonwealth. In that time, the Lottery has turned over more than $4 billion for Virginia’s public schools. The latest annual profits of $439.1 million currently represent about 7 percent of state funding for public education in Virginia. In 21 years, the Lottery has sold more than $21.1 billion in tickets, awarded more than $1.1 billion in retailer commissions and paid more than $11.6 billion in prizes to players.
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