December 19, 2013 in Nation/World

Georgia woman claims half of $636 million lottery

Johnny Clark Associated Press
 
Game change

Mega Millions changed its rules in October to help increase the jackpots by lowering the odds of winning the top prize. That means the chances of winning the jackpot are now about 1 in 259 million. It used to be about 1 in 176 million, nearly the same odds of winning a Powerball jackpot.

ATLANTA – A Georgia woman who bought just one ticket and used family birthdays and lucky No. 7 to choose her numbers was one of two winners of the $636 million Mega Millions jackpot, the second-largest in U.S. history.

Lottery officials in Georgia identified the winner as Ira Curry, of Stone Mountain, which is east of Atlanta. Curry will take a lump sum of $123 million after taxes, Georgia Lottery chief executive Debbie Alford said.

“She has not decided how she’ll spend those winnings,” Alford said at a news conference that Curry did not attend.

The other winning ticket was sold at a gift shop in San Jose, Calif. The winner there has one year to come forward.

Curry was driving to work Wednesday when an announcer on the radio talked about the Mega Ball being 7. Curry knew that was her Mega Ball number, so she called her daughter to check the ticket.

“Between joyful tears and laughter on the daughter’s part, she relayed to her mother that her mother had won the lottery,” Alford said.

Alford wouldn’t say where Curry worked or how old she was. A person who answered the phone at a listing for Curry said, “We are not interested in any publicity, thank you for calling” and then hung up.

Neighbor Kaliah Ladler, 18, said the Curry family was humble.

“Some people get big-headed, but I don’t think they’ll get big-headed. They will probably use it for good,” he said.

Curry, her husband and other family members came to the lottery headquarters to claim the prize, surprising lottery officials who thought the winner may take some time to get their affairs in order before coming forward.

Alford said she didn’t think Curry believed she had won until lottery officials told her congratulations.

“She said she was just in a state of disbelief,” Alford said.

The winning ticket in Georgia was sold at a newsstand in Buckhead, a financial center of Atlanta about 10 miles from Stone Mountain Park.

Some $336 million in tickets were sold for Tuesday’s drawing.

The winning numbers were 8, 14, 17, 20, 39 and Mega Ball 7.

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