Saturday, January 3, 2004

Mega Millions winner patient or in the dark

The Associated Press

CLEVELAND - Ohio's first Mega Millions jackpot winner is being patient. No one came forward Friday to claim the $162 million prize as Ohio Lottery offices opened after the New Year holiday.

Ohio Lottery spokeswoman Mardele Cohen said she was not surprised there was no claim, because winners of large prizes often are careful with their planning. Some big winners claim through a trust to protect their identity.

The only jackpot-winning ticket in Tuesday night's drawing for the 11-state Mega Millions game was sold at Quick Shop Food Mart, in the Cleveland suburb South Euclid.

Store co-owner Jagdish Shah said Friday no one has come into the store asking to have the winning ticket checked.

The winning numbers were: 12, 18, 21, 32 and 46. The Mega Ball number was 49.

When redeeming the ticket, the winner may choose between an immediate cash payout of $95 million before taxes or $162 million over 26 years, Cohen said. The lump-sum payment would be about $67.9 million after taxes, she said.

The state's previous largest jackpot was an Ohio Super Lotto Plus prize of $75 million won and shared in 2002 by 50 workers at Hoover Co. in North Canton, Cohen said.

Mega Millions also is played in Georgia, Virginia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Texas and Washington state.

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