Entries in Mega Millions (30)


Mystery Winner of $52 Million Lotto Comes Forward 

California Lottery released this image, taken from video, of the person they believed to be the winner of a $52 million MegaMillions jackpot. (California Lottery)(FREMONT, Calif.) -- The hunt for a mysterious lottery winner whose photo was released in an effort to find him this week is apparently over. The man has come forward to claim his prize in California.

California lottery officials said the man would be introduced at a press conference at 6 p.m. ET Friday. They earlier released a still shot of the man, dressed in a white T-shirt and sunglasses, buying the winning ticket at a Kwik Stop in Fremont, Calif.

The man is set to claim the $52 million prize from the July 27 drawing of the Mega Millions lottery, according to officials.

The mysterious winner had checked the winning ticket multiple times at Raley's and Safeway stores in the Bay Area, in Northern California, but had not officially come forward to claim the prize, according to the lottery commission.

Mega Millions winners have one year from the time of the drawing to claim their prize.

"The California Lottery truly believes that when a person buys a lottery ticket with the hope and prayer of changing their lives, we should do all we can to connect them with their winnings. We believe this effort will make a lot of Californians very happy," said Russ Lopez, deputy director of corporate communications for the lottery.

The California Lottery said it began sending out photos of all apparent winners of unclaimed prizes recently. In fiscal year 2011-2012, more than $20 million went unclaimed, it said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Mega Millions Jackpot Brings Another Lawsuit from Disgruntled Baker

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- Another man in Chicago claims he is one of now five bakers owed dough -- their fair share of $118 million in winnings from the Illinois State Lottery. They say they were part of a betting pool at the Pita Pan Old World Bakery in Chicago Heights that won the windfall in a May 4 drawing.

Chris Tzinis is the latest worker who claims he was part of the bakery's office pool since its start in December 2011. He said he last contributed to the pool on March 30 at the request of a lottery pool member, but was not asked to pitch in more money for the May 4 drawing, according to the suit filed with Cook County's circuit court.

Last month, four other workers filed three lawsuits with similar stories, saying they are entitled to part of the Mega Millions jackpot. Tzinis did not return a request for comment.

"This group had been running a pool since 2011," said attorney Michael LaMonica of Fisher & LaMonica, the law firm representing two of the five claimants. "Normally, they collected money for the pool on Mondays and Thursdays."

His clients, Jose Franco, 56, and Marco Medina, 39, contributed to the pool for a May 1 drawing, LaMonica said.

The group's ticket won $9, and the modest winnings were re-invested in the drawing for May 4.

"The collector came around again," LaMonica said. "But because some auditing was going on at the bakery, he switched the day of his collection to a Wednesday. For whatever reason, he didn't ask my clients for any additional money."

The ticket that the contributors bought won $118 million on May 4.

Now Franco and Medina say their co-workers are refusing to give them their fair share. Why do they feel they deserve part of the windfall? They paid into the ticket that won $9. And, since the $9 went into the purchase of the next ticket, they had an ownership stake in the $118 million winner.

The pool, they contend, had a standing agreement to divide its winnings equally. They say that if they'd been asked to contribute their customary share for the purchase of the winning ticket, they would have. Only nobody asked them for their money.

Michael Haugh, the attorney for the 12 defendants, said he disagrees with the plaintiffs' "characterization of the facts."

"Anybody who puts in their money can play," Haugh said.

The dozen defendants in the separate lawsuits include Mario Juarez, who allegedly served as the collector of the group's money, and Tony Koumalis and Doug Lein, who allegedly were the pool's organizers.

Haugh said different people participated from drawing to drawing. Two of the 12 winners participated in the office pool for the first time on May 4, he said, "and nobody said to them they don't get their share because they just started playing."

"If you want to play you put in your money," he said. "It's your responsibility, if you want to play, to put your money in. No one was going to chase you for your money."

Haugh said he has not seen the latest complaint filed by Tzinis, who had already filed a claim with the Illinois lottery, saying he believed he was one of the winners.

The group of 12 defendants presented the winning ticket but the Illinois lottery is waiting for a court order from the judge to direct how they should release the funds. If there is a dispute over the winners, the lottery's policy is to wait until it has been resolved to make a payout. The law views betting pools as joint ventures, LaMonica said.

"It's one-for-all and all-for-one," he said. "Everybody gets an equal share. There's no way of knowing which dollar won." Courts in New Jersey and Ohio, he says, when presented with similar disputes, have elected to give equal shares to each participant.

On June 11, the judge in Chicago will likely consolidate the four lawsuits into one, Haugh said. At that time, Haugh will request the lottery release some portion of the jackpot to his twelve clients.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


California Lottery Winner Sues Son for Commandeering Winnings

Tim Boyle/Bloomberg News(NEW YORK) -- It's been almost a year to the day since Ronnie Lee Orender and his mom Etta May Urquhart beamed before cameras and accepted a lump sum of $32.3 million—their take before taxes from a $51 million winning lottery ticket.

And it's been almost a year since the Urquhart and her husband Bob have seen any of the money. Instead, they claim in a lawsuit filed April 23 in Kern Superior Court in Bakersfield, Calif., that Etta May's son Ronnie Lee Orender commandeered the winning Mega Millions ticket, leaving his parents with walking-around money while he took the lion's share of the cash.

The court papers claim Orender bought 10 cars and four homes and put millions into accounts that the Urquhart's are not allowed to touch. Etta May, 76, and Bob, 79, also sued Bancorp Bank and Moneywise, SEI Investment Management, and SEI Investment Co., where they say their son invested the money. They are seeking $32.3 million, in addition to punitive damages.

According to the complaint, Etta May has been buying lottery tickets for 18 years. In her declaration, she noted that her son was not supportive of her weekly ticket purchases. "He discouraged me from playing and told me it was a waste of my money," she said.

Still, when she discovered that she had a winning ticket, her son was all too happy to go with her and her husband to the gas station where she bought it to claim the prize, she said in the filing. Lottery officials were already there, and the family was told that they needed to sign the ticket.

But Etta May was so emotional that she couldn't hold a pen, and so her son signed the ticket. Instead of writing his mom's name, he signed his own, she said. Etta May was overwhelmed with all the press attention she was getting, and so her son "suggested that Etta May tell others that she bought the ticket for Orender," the complaint stated.

He also told his mother that he would handle the money on her behalf. She said she trusted him, and agreed to tell others that she had bought the ticket for him, not herself.

Over time, however, she grew frustrated with the financial situation, and fought with her son about the money. According to Etta May, she has only received a Lincoln SUV, about $125,000 in cash and payments for miscellaneous items like a cell phone and gardener. She was also given a house to live in, although she does not own it.

Her son though bought four houses in Bakersfield, at least 10 vehicles—including a Ford Fusion, GMC SUV, and Evinrude boat--and made cash gifts of $350,000.

"Ronnie Orender is my son, and I lived with him for 18 years," she said in her declaration. "I know Ronnie Orender does not have any means to make the purchased or gifts described…with any monies other than those received from my lottery winnings."

When she finally told her son she wanted to be in charge of her cash, he refused, she alleged.

"For me, as a lawyer, I think all it takes is talking to Etta May for two minutes and it's pretty easy to see she's telling the truth and there's no question about what happened," her lawyer, Barry Goldner, told ABC News, adding that Judge Sidney P. Chapin issued temporary protective orders against Orender, his trust, and all of the financial institutions, freezing the assets.

Goldner said he has not heard from Orender yet. "But I can tell you that Etta May went to the same Mobil station twice a week for 18 years to buy lottery tickets, and amazingly, she won $51 million dollars," he said. "And somewhere between having the winning ticket and collecting the money, all of the money ended up with the son."

ABC News attempted to contact Orender and his family to no avail. It is unknown if he has hired a lawyer.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Kansas Mega Millions Winner Claims Prize, Remains Anonymous

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- The first of three Mega Millions lottery winners has claimed his or her winning share.

The Kansas winner will share the record-breaking $656 million jackpot with so-far-unidentified winners in Maryland and Illinois.

Kansas lottery officials Friday presented a jumbo check for an estimated $218 million to a cardboard poster figure with a smile-face head and the words "anonymous jackpot winner" printed on its chest.

Dennis Wilson, executive director of the Kansas Lotter, said that in the state of Kansas, winners can choose to remain anonymous.

"That person has chosen that option," Wilson said. He would not reveal the gender, age or any other details about the winner.

"They didn't actually discover they had the winning ticket until Monday," Wilson said. "They actually just checked the tickets of all the games they had purchased and found out they were the winner."

"They checked it over 10 times to make sure they were reading it right, to verify it, and they still had a hard time believing it," Wilson said.

The winner chose to take the cash option of $157 million instead of the yearly payments over 26 years which would have matched the $218 million on the check.

Wilson said the winner called ahead and then arrived at the Kansas Lottery office Friday at around 11:45 a.m. with an attorney and financial advisors.

When asked if the winners were frequent players, Wilson said, "They play quite often. They don't play a lot, but they play quite often."

"It proves real people really do win, and you could be next," he said with a laugh.

A representative from the store where the ticket was sold was presented with a $10,000 check.

The drawing for the world's largest jackpot was one week ago, on March 30. The winning numbers were 2-4-23-38-46 and Mega ball 23.

Over the past week, rumors have been rampant about the identities of the three winners.

A Maryland McDonald's employee and mother of seven, Mirlande Wilson, 37, has been dominating the rumor mill by claiming that she bought the ticket, but has yet to find it.

Carole Everett, director of communications for the Maryland lottery, told ABC News that there is "no indication" that the story is true.

Maryland's lottery director, Stephen Martino, called a news conference on Thursday to dispel rumors that the state's winner had already come forward. He said he feared that doctored images of winning tickets over social media and April Fools' Day tales had led the real winner to dispose of his or her ticket.

"The ticket has not been claimed," Martino said Thursday. "People need to look at their tickets."

Martino held the news conference after two people claimed to have won the bonanza, but had not shown their tickets to the state lottery office. The news conference, he said, was meant to "separate fact from fiction."

Everett said that winners usually call in to the lottery office or have a lawyer contact officials. She does not expect that someone will come walking through the door with a winning ticket. She expects it could take days or weeks for winners to come forward.

Maryland and Kansas allow winners to remain anonymous, but Illinois will identify the winner.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Nation Waits for Identity of Mega Millions Winners 

Tim Boyle/Bloomberg News(RED BUD, Ill.) -- It's a mystery that may never be completely solved.

A third of the nation -- 100 million Americans -- played Mega Millions last week, and there are only three winning tickets, each worth $218 million.

The people who bought the winning tickets that were sold in Maryland and Kansas can remain anonymous because of state laws, but in Red Bud, Ill., population 3700, where lottery officials say the third winning ticket was purchased, the town is abuzz with the thought that someone there has suddenly become very rich.

"Who would have thought Red Bud would be put on the map," Red Bud resident Alice Proctor said.

It's a town where you most likely know your neighbor.

"Oh, it's exciting. It's exciting. You know, there's always, in small towns, there's always gossip going on. So it just gives everybody something to speculate about. And everybody's dreaming," Red Bud resident Joanne Cowell said.

And all along Illinois Highway 3, which runs through the middle of town, they are talking. Is it their neighbor who is the newest millionaire?

"Oh my gosh, everybody's just guessing. And rumors are flying," Proctor said.

Rumors, names popping up at the Country Kitchen: "Not me," they say.

Which is what Nadine Wright told her kids when they called.

"And I said, well, no sorry. You're on your own for a while yet," Wright said.

Anyone tired of being asked if they are the newest millionaire can now buy a T-shirt reading "Yes, I am from Red Bud. No, I am not the winner."

Lottery officials say Americans will find out who bought the winning ticket in Illinois, but only when whoever it is claims the prize, and that could be in days or weeks.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Mega Millions Jackpot Soars to $640 Million

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The largest lottery jackpot in U.S. history leaped even higher to $640 million as throngs of hopefuls bought fistfuls of last minute tickets.

The cash lump sum payment is now worth $462 million, up from $389.8 million.

The drawing earlier Friday was just $540 million, surpassing the estimated $476 million jackpot and previous record of $390 million.

But it jumped by $100 million as long lines of ticket buyers jammed stores for their chance to join the country's one percent.

A now eye-popping 400 million tickets have been sold in just the last 48 hours for the drawing set to take place at 11 p.m.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Should Mega Millions Winner Take Annuity or Lump Sum?

Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesUPDATE: The Mega Millions jackpot has soared to $640 million, according to lottery officials.  The cash value now stands at $462 million.

(NEW YORK) -- The odds of winning are slim, but whoever gets lucky during Friday night's Mega Millions drawing will face the practical choice of taking the money on a yearly basis, or opting for the mega lump sum.

The jackpot currently stands at $540 million, meaning the cash option would yield a one-time lump sum payment of approximately $389.8 million.  The annuity option would provide estimated payments of $20.7 million a year over 26 years.

Remember, those numbers are pre-tax.  Right off the top, the lottery withholds 25 percent for federal tax, then, depending on where you live and your tax bracket, another 6 to 9 percent for state taxes.

The sheer amount of money is mind-boggling.

"We've never seen anything like this," said lottery spokesperson Elias Dominguez with a laugh.  "It's almost scary."

Dominguez said Mega Millions does not try to sway winners one way or the other, though they do provide every winner with a handbook with advice -- namely to get an attorney and a financial advisor.  They have no hard numbers, but generally most people take the lump sum.

"Most of them want all their money now.  They're not sure what's going to happen in 26 years.  Plus, people think they can take that lump sum and invest it and make more money on their own," he said.

Clearly, the upside to the lump sum is having access to all that money to do as you please.  But spreading the payments over time guarantees a steady income stream, and can help reduce taxes.  Age may be a consideration, though Mega Millions promises to continue to send out those checks every year, even if the winner dies, to a designated beneficiary.

Economist Austan Goolsbee, a professor at the University of Chicago who also chaired the White House Council of Economic Advisers, says the choice comes down to interest rates.  And with interest rates at zero, the lump sum just makes better financial sense.

"If you are fortunate enough to win the lottery, you most certainly want to take the lump sum," Goolsbee said.

Here's why: to fund the lottery, the lottery operators buy a zero coupon bond, which is a type of bond that ultimately pays the full amount in the final year.  In this case, the bond value $540 million paid in the 26th year.  So the value of that bond today is the lump sum.

As the interest rate goes down, the value of that bond shoots up, because the lottery deducts the interest rate every year over time.  So, in normal times, when the interest rate is say, 3 to 5 percent, Gooslbee said the value of the lump sum was about half the stated value of the lottery.  But today, with interest rates near zero, the lump sum is worth much more.

"Whoever wins, they should go thank God, and then the second person they should thank is Ben Bernanke because he just gave them an extra $90 million," Goolsbee said.

This calculation only changes when interest rates rise, and since the Fed chairman has indicated he's not raising rates until at least 2015, Goolsbee said the choice is clear.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Mega Millions Jackpot Jumps to $540 Million and Could Go Higher

Tim Boyle/Bloomberg NewsUPDATE: The Mega Millions jackpot has soared to $640 million, according to lottery officials.  The cash value now stands at $462 million.

(NEW YORK) -- Will there be a lucky winner in Friday night's drawing of the biggest lottery award in Mega Millions history?

The chances are slim -- the odds of winning the jackpot are estimated at about one in 176 million, according to lottery officials.  But at $540 million, many are taking a gamble, hoping to score the big prize and change their lives.

Long lines are expected Friday in 42 states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands as people head out to purchase Mega Millions tickets ahead of the 11 p.m. ET drawing.  And as those ticket sales soar, so could the jackpot.

To win, one must get all six numbers right -- five drawn from a set of balls numbered one through 56, and one drawn from a set numbered one through 46.

As it stands, the cash option, should the winner not choose to spread the jackpot over 26 annual payments, would be $389.8 million.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama Says ‘No’ to Mega Millions With Lottery Skepticism

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama is not tempted to buy a Mega Millions ticket, White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters Thursday. And a newly resurfaced archival video of Obama from 2000 might help explain why.

Appearing on the public TV program Chicago Tonight, then-State Sen. Obama argued that the lottery is not a good way to spend money, especially for the poor.

“One of the concerns that I have, obviously, is that a disproportionate number of people who consistently buy lottery tickets tend to be lower-income and working-class people who can least afford it,” he said. “Even if they’re not compulsive gamblers, they are probably spending money that they don’t necessarily have.”

Obama also suggested that state lotteries’ marketing practices made them complicit in fleecing the low-income crowd.

“Now, we might say that this is their entertainment dollar the same way that somebody else has entertainment dollar and spends it on a movie,” he said. “But I think the fact that the state systematically targets what we know to be lower income persons as a way of raising revenue is troublesome.

“I would argue that if you look at it as a whole, in most states across the board, this tends to be a form of regressive taxation, and I don’t think it’s necessarily the fairest way for us to raise revenue for us in the state,” he said.

The video was obtained and circulated online by the website BuzzFeed.

While Obama might personally oppose state lotteries and their marketing style, his re-election campaign has embraced games of chance to draw in grassroots supporters.

The campaign regularly appeals for donations of $3 or more to be “automatically entered” for a chance to win dinner with Barack and Michelle. (The fine print says no purchase, payment or contribution are necessary to enter to win, however.)

And during the televised Republican primary debates, the campaign promoted a Vegas-style debate watch game that charged supporters’ credit cards an incremental, predetermined amount each time the candidates said a selected phrase, like “Obamacare,” “9-9-9,” “socialism” or “fence.”  Participation offered something of a gamble, although supporters could put a cap on the total they’d have to pay out.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Mathematicians: Mega Millions Winning Strategies Not In Your Favor

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The Mega Millions jackpot, the biggest lottery award in the game's history at an estimated $500 million, has millions of people dreaming, however ridiculous the odds may be.

The odds of getting struck by lightning are about one in 280,000, according to the National Lightning Safety Institute.  The odds of winning the Mega Millions jackpot for the next drawing on Friday are estimated at about one in 176 million, according to lottery officials.  Though that bolt from the sky may strike you more than 500 times before you hit that jackpot, it's still fun to dream.

Some people claim to have strategies to increase your chances at lottery games, but mathematicians say there is little you can do to win Mega Millions.

The $500 million prize has a cash option of $359 million, the estimated jackpot based on national sales up to the time of the drawing, according to the official Mega Millions website.  Mega Millions drawings are held Tuesdays and Fridays at 11 p.m. EDT.

Matthew Vea, an army reservist and programmer, created a website four years ago that tracks the Mega Millions numbers that have and have not been drawn.

"Some numbers do seem to definitely appear more than others comparing the standard deviation," he said.  "However, that said, I do joke that if that kind of analysis truly did produce a winning result, I would be a millionaire by now.  The fact that I have a day job shows there's no predicting the lottery."

Now that the jackpot has reached a record high, Vea said he plans to use his website and buy a ticket to at least win a partial prize.  Including the jackpot prize, there are nine ways to win a Mega Millions award, starting from $2.

One reason why there is no clear strategy to increase your odds of winning is the way Mega Millions is played, said Michael Shackleford, gaming mathematician and actuary.  The winner is selected through five balls drawn from a set of balls numbered one through 56, and one ball is drawn from a set numbered one through 46.

Mathematicians often use the word "odds" instead of "chances" to describe winning.  The odds of winning any of the Mega Millions prizes are approximately 1 in 40.

But Shackleford said, "Your chances of winning the jackpot with Mega Millions will always be the same.  It doesn't matter what numbers you pick or the jackpot size."

For example, the odds that Tuesday's winning numbers for the $356 million Mega Millions lottery jackpot, the third-largest prize in the game's history, will be picked again on Friday technically stay the same.  That's because the same numbers, one through 56 and one through 46, stay in the pool for Friday.

In fact, Vea said one set of five numbers has been drawn twice in Mega Millions's history: 11, 14, 18, 33, 48.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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