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Biggest-ever state lottery winner emerges from hiding

RELEASE DATE: 4/17/2017

Watch the press conference

LITTLE ROCK – He’s the 55th lottery-made millionaire in the state, but with a $177 million dollar win, Eliberto Cantu of Lubbock, Texas, could make many more millionaires on his own. Mr. Cantu finally came forward today after purchasing the winning Mega Millions ticket March 30.

As the state of Arkansas held its collective breath, the newly-minted multi-millionaire wisely got his financial ducks in a row before being the main attraction at a press conference held today at the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery’s offices downtown.

“All I can say is, we’re blessed – and keep buying lottery tickets!,” Mr. Cantu, 71, said at the press conference, where he was presented with an oversized check by Arkansas Scholarship Lottery director Bishop Woosley. A regular lottery player – in fact, the whole Cantu family plays – Mr. Cantu purchased the ticket while working in construction near Hazen. The winner’s son said his parents “still don’t believe it is real.”

They plan to do some traveling with his prize, which is the largest jackpot ticket ever sold in Arkansas, and will level and rebuild their home church, and its sister church, with part of the win: “He got up the other morning at 5:30, and realized he didn’t have to go!”
The $177,000,000 winning Arkansas Scholarship Lottery ticket was sold at All Stop Valero, 408 East 22nd St., in Stuttgart (Arkansas County). The retailer will receive a $50,000 bonus commission on the sale.

About the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery

Since its inception in 2009, the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery has provided nearly $700 million for in-state college scholarships to Arkansas students, more than $2 billion in prizes to players, created more than 50 millionaires, and paid more than $190 million in commissions to Lottery retailers. More than 92 cents of every dollar of Lottery revenue goes to prizes, scholarships, retailer commissions and other expenses in Arkansas. In fiscal year 2016, the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery had nearly 2 million winners every month – more than 2,500 an hour.

About Mega Millions

Mega Millions was originally named The Big Game when the jackpot draw game launched in 1996. Five numbered balls are drawn from 1 to 75, and one numbered ball is drawn from 1 to 15. If all your numbers match those that are chosen, you win the jackpot, which starts at $15 million and grows until someone wins. The Megaplier option can multiply winnings by 2, 3, 4 or 5 times. The game is offered in 44 states, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Washington D.C. Mega Millions drawings are held Tuesday and Fridays in Atlanta.

Follow the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Visit MyArkansasLottery for more information on scholarships, winners, games, odds, promotions – and to join the free Play It Again™ Rewards Club. To hear winning numbers, call the Winning Numbers Hotline at 501-682-IWON (4966). To get help with problem gambling, contact the National Problem Gambling Helpline at 1-800-522-4700.

Media contact: Stephen Koch, Arkansas Scholarship Lottery, (501) 683-2055