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North Idaho woman identified as second jackpot winner

WEDNESDAY, JAN. 12, 2011, 1:02 P.M.

Idaho Lottery Director Jeff Anderson announces the Mega Millions winner from North Idaho. At left is a check for $50,000 to the Post Falls convenience store where the ticket was sold; at right is a mockup of a check to winner Holly Lahti for $190 million. (Betsy Russell)
Idaho Lottery Director Jeff Anderson announces the Mega Millions winner from North Idaho. At left is a check for $50,000 to the Post Falls convenience store where the ticket was sold; at right is a mockup of a check to winner Holly Lahti for $190 million. (Betsy Russell)

The winner of the $190 million Mega Millions Lottery from Idaho - half the full $380 million jackpot - is Holly Lahti of North Idaho, state Lottery Director Jeff Anderson just announced.

He called Lahti “a delightful individual,” but said she’s asked for privacy, and the lottery isn’t releasing any information about her other than that she’s from North Idaho. The woman turned her winning ticket over to the lottery office in Boise yesterday, at the end of the day, and the lottery has confirmed that it is the winner. It hasn’t yet paid, her, however, Anderson said. She has 60 days to decide whether she wants to take the 26 payments over 25 years, or the smaller lump sum of $120 million, which would equal $81 million after state and federal income taxes.

“She’s given us an indication that she’s willing to talk to the media when she’s got her affairs in order,” Anderson said. “As you might expect, there’s a lot of things that Ms. Lahti has to get in order.” He said, “We thank everyone who plays our fun and entertaining games.” He said Lahti is an Idaho native, but declined to provide any more information about her. “She’s asked that we respect her privacy, so no, I can’t,” Anderson said. “There’s lots of curious people who want to know the winner is. This is a big deal.” Her name was being provided because it is a matter of public record, he said.

If Lahti takes the lump sum payment, the state of Idaho would receive $9.36 million in state income taxes.

The winning ticket was sold at Ady’s Convenience & Car Wash on Seltice Way in Post Falls. The convenience store will receive $50,000.

Lahti let the computer pick the numbers for her, a ticket known as a “quick pick.”

Once people hear this, Ady’s is going to become the luckiest place in northern Idaho,” Anderson said.

Lahti is splitting the $380 million jackpot with an Ephrata couple, which picked the other winning ticket and who came forward last week.

Katie Stillinger said she worked with with Lahti at Inland Northwest Bank in Post Falls for several years and said Lahti “really deserves” the money she’s won.

“She’s a very, very sweet girl. She has a wonderful personality,” said Stillinger, who was a branch manager while Lahti was a teller in new accounts. She said Lahti is a single mother of two young children. “She’s had a hard time raising them by herself and she will do wonderful things with (her winnings).”

“She’s very bubbly and always laughing,” Stillinger said of Lahti. “She’s always the one that makes everyone smile.”



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