September 3, 2007 in Nation/World

A New Age on horizon for lottery winner

Todd Hallidy Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

Elwood “Bunky” Bartlett smiles as he talks with reporters on Sunday.Associated Press
(Full-size photo)

NOTTINGHAM, Md. – Elwood “Bunky” Bartlett says a New Age book store made it possible for him to become an overnight multimillionaire.

He and his wife, Denise, were on their way to the shop where he occasionally teaches Wicca and Reiki healing when they stopped at a liquor store and bought two $5 Mega Millions tickets for Friday night’s estimated $330 million jackpot. On Sunday, he said one ticket was a winner.

“If it wasn’t for this place I wouldn’t have won the lottery,” Bartlett said Sunday at Mystickal Voyage, the New Age shop.

Four winning tickets to the Mega Millions jackpot were sold in Maryland, New Jersey, Texas and Virginia. Lottery officials said Sunday they cannot confirm the validity of Bartlett’s ticket before they meet with him on Tuesday.

“There’s no reason to believe it’s not legitimate, but it has to go through security,” said Maryland State Lottery Director Buddy Roogow, who said he has spoken with Bartlett.

Bartlett, an accountant from Dundalk, said he made a bargain with the multiple gods associated with his Wiccan beliefs: “You let me win the lottery and I’ll teach.” Both tickets he purchased had numbers chosen randomly from the computer.

Bartlett had not decided if he will accept his winnings as an annuity or choose the lump sum cash option.

The jackpot could get larger once ticket sales are tallied, Roogow said, but the lump sum payment would be at least $48.7 million, or about $32 million after taxes.

According to preliminary calculations, each ticket would be worth about $82 million if the prize were taken in 26 annual payments.

Bartlett said the money won’t change him, although he plans to invest in Mystickal Voyage. “I’m going to live my life like I have been,” he said.

The odds that any ticket would match all five numbers – 8, 18, 22, 40 and 44 – and the Mega Ball number – 11 – were one in 176 million.

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