January 6, 2011 in City, Idaho

Inland Northwest ticket-buyers share in Mega Millions fortune

Ephrata, Post Falls stores sold winners in $380 million prize
By The Spokesman-Review
Associated Press photo

Nathan Arlantico, video department manager at the Ephrata, Wash., Safeway store, takes a call at the counter where a winning Mega Millions ticket was sold.
(Full-size photo)

The Inland Northwest could soon see a mega windfall.

Both winning tickets in the $380 million Mega Millions lottery were sold here – one in Post Falls and the other in the Grant County town of Ephrata, Wash., lottery officials announced Wednesday. Each ticket is worth $190 million.

The Ephrata winner came forward Wednesday. Washington Lottery Communications Director Scott Kinney said the Washington ticket was sold to a retired man who plans to take his family along to Olympia to claim his winnings today.

The Idaho winners have not yet stepped forward; they have 180 days to do so.

“With large winners like this, people don’t pop in the next day,” said Idaho Lottery Director Jeff Anderson. “They have things to take care of.”

However, one smaller winner already has been named: Kevin Anderson, of Melba, Idaho, matched all five numbers but not the Mega Ball, to win a $250,000 prize.

“I was a little disappointed when I didn’t get the Mega Ball, but then I was like, ‘But I matched five,’ ” the construction superintendent said. “We were dancing around.”

He said, “It made going to work so much easier today. I told my boss, if it’d been one more number, you would’ve gotten my resignation.”

Anderson said he was out of work for two years, so most of his winnings will go to pay bills, but he and his wife are contemplating buying a new car. His check, after taxes, totaled $168,000.

He was one of 67 people nationwide to match five numbers; more than 5.5 million others won smaller prizes ranging from $2 to $10,000.

But the big news is the big jackpot. It was advertised at $355 million, but because of frenzied sales in anticipation of the big payoff, it jumped to roughly $380 million. The two big winners will split that amount.

The winning Ephrata ticket was sold at a Safeway supermarket, where a stream of shoppers on Wednesday flocked to the video department where lottery tickets are sold to check their tickets.

“We know as much as anyone else does,” said Nathan Arlantico, 21, the video department manager. He said the store was busy with lines of potential millionaires buying tickets all day Tuesday.

Lottery officials in Idaho won’t say where the Post Falls ticket was sold until the winner comes forward.

The $190 million figure is the amount each of the two winners will get if they take 26 payments over 25 years. They also have the option of a lump sum of $120 million. After federal and Idaho state income taxes, that would end up being a payout of almost $81 million.

The overall jackpot is the second-largest in U.S. history. The largest came in March 2007, when two winners in Georgia and New Jersey shared a $390 million Mega Millions jackpot.

The drawing in the multistate game drew huge interest across the country as thousands of people lined up to buy tickets in 41 states and Washington, D.C.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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