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Ex-Rathdrum MMillionaire Opens Up

Holly Lahti has had several people impersonate her on Facebook. FedEx made multiple stops at her home and her family's homes each day, delivering real estate and business invites, including one from the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling. She has received many letters from inmates and, of course, there has been a barrage of marriage proposals from strangers. That's what happens when you split a $380 million Mega Millions lottery jackpot. It was the second-largest lottery jackpot in U.S. history at the time and now ranks as the fifth-highest. Soon after she hit that jackpot in January 2011, Lahti (pronounced Lot-ee), now 31, fled to California from her hometown of Rathdrum and all the hype that came with the win. But, in her first interview since striking it rich, Lahti told The Press this week she's finally starting to settle into her life's next chapter/Brian Walker, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.

Question: Would you leave North Idaho if you had $80M burning a hole in your pocket from splitting the Mega Millions lottery jackpot?

3 Educators Claim MMillions Share

A lottery official, left, and the three anonymous winners of the Maryland portion of the Mega Millions lottery pose for a photo in Baltimore this morning. Maryland Lottery officials say three public school employees are sharing the spoils of the record Mega Millions jackpot. The winning Maryland ticket is one of three nationally that split the $656 jackpot. (AP Photo/Maryland State Lottery Agency)

The Maryland Mega Millions mystery has been solved. Three public school educators stepped forward Monday to cash in their ticket for a share of a record jackpot that topped $656 million. They wore black gloves and matching red sweatshirts and hid behind one of those giant checks — preferring to remain anonymous in an attempt to keep at bay all those people who would like to separate the lottery winners from their money. The trio — two public school teachers and a school administrator — have relatively modest plans for their winnings/Renee Lynch, Los Angeles Times. More here.

Question: Are you glad a couple of working stiffs and a school administrator won the final third of the jackpot?

Mega Millions Odds: 176M To 1

A customer at a convenience store holds her money as she waits to purchase Mega Millions lottery tickets Friday in Portland, Ore. Lottery ticket lines across the U.S. swelled Friday as players drawn by a record $640 million Mega Millions jackpot took a chance at becoming an overnight millionaire. The jackpot odds were at 1 in 176 million. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Question: Have you ever won anything from a lottery or drawing?

Mega Frenzy In Post Falls For Jackpot

With the Mega Millions jackpot reaching a record high of $540 million dollars, thousands of people across the Inland Northwest are shelling out big bucks for a chance to strike it rich. Jen Gass, a clerk at Ady's Convenience and Car Wash in Post Falls said she sold almost $4,000 dollars worth of lotto tickets on Thursday. “They come in and they are like 'I want a hundred dollar in Mega Millions' it's crazy,” she said. “You get asked to kiss a ticket or blow on it for good luck, people are strange,” she said/Annie Bishop, KXLY. More here.

Question: Have you purchased more than $10 worth of Mega Millions tickets?

2 Near Hits In Spokane For MMillions

No one won the big jackpot in Tuesday night’s Mega Millions drawing, but several people picked five of the six numbers to win $250,000, and three of those winners are in Washington. The Washington Lottery says two of the quarter-million dollar tickets were sold in Spokane and one in Ferndale. In addition, a $10,000 prize was claimed Wednesday by a Naval Base Kitsap worker who played with a group of 28 friends. The Mega Millions jackpot is now the largest in U.S. lottery history — $500 million for the Friday night drawing/SR. More here.

Question: Are you playing the $500M Mega Millions lottery? What will you do if you win?

NJ man to pay millions in lottery lawsuit

Top: Americo Lopes exits the courtroom on Wednesday in Elizabeth, N.J.  A jury found that Lopes had cheated five co-workers out of their share of a $38.5 million lottery jackpot. Below: Plantiffs Carlos Fernandes, right, Candido Silva Jr. shake hands. (AP Photos/The Star-Ledger, Frances Micklow, Pool)

ELIZABETH, N.J. (AP) — Five construction workers in New Jersey, vindicated by a jury, must wait before learning exactly how much they'll share of a $38.5 million Mega Millions jackpot that a co-worker who was part of their lottery pool claimed as his own in 2009.

 A jury in state Superior Court in Elizabeth reached a unanimous verdict on Wednesday that Americo Lopes had cheated the men out of their share of the prize.

The panel rejected the 52-year-old's claims that he had won the jackpot on a personal ticket and not with the ticket that he had bought as part of the lottery pool.

Attorney Rubin Sinins, who represented the five men, said each was awarded $4 million because the jackpot was worth $24 million after Lopes chose the cash option.

However attorney Eric Kahn, who also represented the former colleagues, told The New York Times that details on how much each man would receive and how much each might owe in taxes needed to be worked out.

The men started playing the lottery together in 2007 while they worked for Berto Construction Inc. in Elizabeth.

When Lopes hit the Mega Millions jackpot in November 2009, he told his boss he wouldn't be returning because he needed foot surgery, which he never received. He also filed for unemployment benefits after claiming the $17,433,966 prize after taxes.

His wife, Margarida, testified that her husband finally called one of the men in the group in March 2010 and told him about winning.

“Our clients all feel vindicated” by the verdict, Sinins said. “This has been their position all along; they've been challenged in their position and the jury saw it their way. They are very gratified.”

Lopes left court with his wife shortly after the verdict. Speaking in Portuguese, Lopes said he had been robbed, The Star-Ledger of Newark reported.

His attorney, Michael Mezzacca, was disappointed.

“The fact is Mr. Lopes won the lottery by himself with his own money and numbers that he picked,” Mezzacca told the newspaper.

When the verdict was announced, the five plaintiffs embraced. They told The Star-Ledger they'll continue to play the lottery as a group, but would copy the ticket.

“I have a lot to do,” plaintiff Carlos Fernandez said. “My granddaughter was born yesterday. I have to buy her a present she'll remember.”

Hayden Couple Wins $1MM Lottery

Idaho’s place as the number one lottery jurisdiction to win a multi-state Draw Game prize over $500,000 continued when Clifford and Helena Jordan became the third one million dollar, or higher, winners from northern Idaho this year. The couple claimed last week’s $1,000,000 Mega Millions prize Monday morning at Idaho Lottery Headquarters after making the 8 hour trek on Sunday from their home in Hayden to Boise. After realizing he had the $1,000,000 Mega Millions winning ticket when he checked his numbers at the Dexco Mini Mart on Government Way in Coeur d’Alene, Clifford Jordan told his wife he felt like taking a drive to Boise. “Not only is it a long drive, but it’s also expensive these days,” said Helena Jordan, laughing.“When he told me he wanted to go to Boise, I just didn’t want to be out the expense. Then he told me he’d won the lottery and I really didn’t believe him”/Idaho Lottery news release. More here.

$1M MM Ticket Sold In Kootenai Co

A $1 million Mega Millions ticket for last night's draw was been sold in Kootenai County, according to the Idaho Lottery. The Idaho Lottery has confirmed that one ticket for last night’s Mega Millions draw matched all five of the first numbers, but not the Megaball, and has the Megaplier option which makes it an automatic $1,000,000 winner.The winning numbers from last night’s Mega Millions draw were 28, 30, 31, 37, 55 and the Megaball was 13. This is the sixth “Match 5” winner on Mega Millions since the game began in February of 2010 and the fourth for northern Idaho. Last night’s winner makes the second $1 million winning ticket on Mega Millions sold in Kootenai County.In addition, the Coeur d’Alene area had two $250,000 winners last fall and one jackpot winner last January – all on Mega Millions. Idaho Lottery news release here.

Question: What's the most money you've won playing a lottery?

Is Jackpot Winner Entitled To Privacy?

RE: Mystery surrounds Idaho winner of $190 million/Nicholas Geranios, Associated Press

JThompson: The story is compelling because of its rags to riches angle, her troubled past, and the fact that her ex may have legal rights to half of her winnings. News reporters aren't going to back away from such a juicy story. They will flush her out eventually. In addition, she could have provided them with a better photograph but she apparently chose not to so the press is left with a mug shot.

Question: An Associated Press story about local Mega Millions winner Holly Lahti that includes old booking photos of her estranged husband and her upset some commenters when I posted it over the weekend. They believe Holly Lahti has a right to her privacy despite her recent good fortune. What do you think?

Mystery Surrounds Jackpot Winner Lahti

Holly Lahti burst into the spotlight a week ago in a feel-good story about a single mother who won a $190 million Mega Millions jackpot. Then came the mugshot: a thin young woman with disheveled brown hair, sporting a black eye and cuts and bruises on her face and neck. It turned out she was separated from a man who court records indicated had abused her, and now has a possible claim to some of the money through a quirk in Idaho law. Lahti, 29, went underground with her two daughters immediately after learning she had won half of a $380 million jackpot in the Jan. 4 drawing. She has not been seen or heard in public since, though she has posted a message to her suddenly large group of Facebook followers/Associated Press. More here. (Booking photo of Holly Lahti's estranged husband, Josh)

DFO: Several of the commenters objected to the booking photo of a beaten Holly Lahti being shown on the front page here. So I've substituted a booking photo of her husband, Josh Lahti. Holly Lahti's photo can be seen with the AP story that I linked to.

Question: What do you make of the mystery surrounding Holly Lahti since she won her Mega Million fortune?

Lahti opts for lump sum for her Mega Millions lottery prize

Here's a news item from the Associated Press:  BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Lottery officials say a 29-year-old northern Idaho woman has decided to collect her half of a $380 million Mega Millions jackpot in a lump sum payment. The Idaho Lottery announced Friday that Holly Lahti, from the small town of Rathdrum, had elected to take the $120 million lump sum instead of collecting her cash in annual payments over 25 years. The federal government would take $30 million in taxes, while the Idaho State Tax Commission would take a $9.3 million slice, leaving Lahti with about $80.6 million. Lahti, a mother of two, is splitting the second-largest lottery jackpot in history with Jim and Carolyn McCullar of Ephrata, Wash.

Lahti Wants Jackpot In Lump Sum

Lottery officials say a 29-year-old northern Idaho woman has decided to collect her half of a $380 million Mega Millions jackpot in a lump sum payment. The Idaho Lottery announced Friday that Holly Lahti, from the small town of Rathdrum, had elected to take the $120 million lump sum instead of collecting her cash in annual payments over 25 years. The federal government would take $30 million in taxes, while the Idaho State Tax Commission would take a $9.3 million slice, leaving Lahti with about $80.6 million/Associated Press. More here.

Question: If you won a lottery worth $190M, would you take the money in a lump sum or spread out?

Lottery Winner’s Ex Could Get Half

Item: Lottery win takes on twist: Estranged husband entitled to some of the money, attorneys say/Brian Walker, Coeur d'Alene Press

More Info: Josh told the Associated Press on Wednesday that the two have been married about a decade but are separated, and they have two daughters, ages 10 and 12. He said he learned about Holly's winnings from a reporter. Records indicate a strained relationship between the two. Josh, a 1997 Lakeland High graduate, was arrested for violating a no-contact order and battery in 2002 and 2003. The lottery amount Josh and Holly each would receive is unclear. Attorneys differ on the interpretation of the law.

Question: How much money do you think Holly Lahti estranged husband will get? How much does he deserve?

Winner May Have To Split Mega Millions

A Rathdrum woman who split the second largest lottery jackpot in US history may have to split her winnings again with her estranged husband. A marriage license in the Kootenai County Recorder's office shows Josh Lahti and Holly Alford were wed in Coeur d'Alene in May of 2001. However over time, relatives say, the pair stopped living together. A check at the court house revealed there is no record of any divorce proceedings in Idaho or Washington and according to John George, an attorney with the law firm Palmer and George, if a divorce never happened, Josh Lahti can legally claim half of his estranged wife's winnings which would be worth approximately $40 Million/Jeff Humphrey, KXLY. More here.

Question: Is this right?

Mega Millions Winner Lahti Screamed

When Holly Lahti found out she won $190 million in the Mega Millions Lottery, she kept her cool. For a moment or two. At first, “she was very quiet about it,” said Leasa Moore, night manager at Ady’s Convenience Store & Car Wash on Seltice Way in Post Falls, where the winning ticket was sold. When Lahti, of Rathdrum, went to the store to check her numbers last week, the employees took her in the back to tell her she won. She was calm at first, but in the backroom Lahti could no longer contain her excitement. She asked if anyone was in the store. When she was told there wasn’t, Moore said she asked, “Can I scream?” And scream, she did/Chelsea Bannach, SR. More here. (AP file photo: Idaho Lottery Director Jeff Anderson)

Question: Would you simply scream if you'd just been told that you'd won the $190 Mega Millions lottery?

Jackpot jumps sales at North Idaho store

Lottery ticket sales have jumped at Ady’s Convenience Store & Car Wash on Seltice Way in Post Falls, where the winning ticket for a Mega Millions $190 million jackpot was sold. The winner, Holly Lahti of Rathdrum, was a regular customer at the convenience store; you can read our full story here at spokesman.com.

Holly Lahti Wins 2nd Mega Millions Pot

The winner of the $190 million Mega Milions Lottery from Idaho - half the full $380 million jackpot - is Holly Lahti of North Idaho, and the ticket was sold at Ady's Convenience & Car Wash on Seltice Way in Post Falls, Idaho 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. She 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/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here. (SR photo/Betsy Russell: Jeff Anderson, director of the Idaho Lottery, announces the Idaho winner of the Mega Millions jackpot, Holly Lahti.)

Idaho’s Mega Millions winner identified

The winner of the $190 million Mega Milions Lottery from Idaho - half the full $380 million jackpot - is Holly Lahti of North Idaho, and the ticket was sold at Ady's Convenience & Car Wash on Seltice Way in Post Falls, Idaho 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. She 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 is public record, he said.
  

Is Mega Millions Winner In Rathdrum?

It's been almost a week now since a Mega Millions lottery ticket worth $190 Million was sold in Post Falls. While no one has stepped forward to claim their prize there are indications the lucky winner lives in Rathdrum. KXLY sources said a woman told her relatives that she had the winning ticket and plans to present it to lottery officials later on this week. Lottery officials in Idaho have said they have not been contacted about a winner coming forward.The relatives said the Rathdrum resident is a single mom of two children and is a very deserving recipient.The woman, according to relatives, has retained the services of an attorney and is getting her personal affairs in order before turning her ticket in and going public/Jeff Humphrey, KXLY. More here.

Question: Are you hoping that the Mega Millions winner is either someone who deserves a break and/or someone who lives in the local area?

Where Is 2nd Mega Millions Winner?

Item: Post Falls to lottery winner: Please show yourself: Officials refuse to announce business which sold ticket/Nicholas K. Geranios, Associated Press

More Info: People in Post Falls are buzzing about the winner, even though the person may not be a local, and may not yet know they are sitting on a fortune, said Deaton, manager of Jones Chevron on busy Interstate 90, which runs from Boston to Seattle. “It's probably someone who drove through,” Deaton said. “A lot of travelers buy tickets as they drive through states.”

Question: Do you think the winner of the Post Falls lottery is local? Why? Why not?

PM: Mega Millionaires Meet The Press

Jim and Carolyn McCullar, of Ephrata, Wash., the winners of a Mega Millions lottery jackpot, talk to reporters this afternoon in Olympia, Wash. The McCullars will split the $380 million prize with another person who has not yet come forward, who purchased a ticket in Idaho. ABC News story here. And: KHQ comments reacting to winners here. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Question: So are you happy with the type of individual who won the Mega Millions lottery?

Ephrata Man Claims Mega Millions

The man who bought one of the two winning tickets in the $380 million Mega Millions lottery on Wednesday claimed his half of the second largest jackpot in history. Jim McCullar then promptly handed over the oversized check to his wife, Carolyn. “We've been married 41 years,” he said, as his family looked on. “I know what to do with this check.” While the McCullars stepped forward to get their prize in the state capital in Olympia, officials and residents in neighboring Idaho were still awaiting for whoever has the other winning ticket to claim their winnings. Jim McCullar bought his ticket at a supermarket in Ephrata in eastern Washington/Curt Woodward, Associated Press. More here. And: Video here.

Question: Are you more inclined to play the lottery now that both winning tickets for the Mega Millions lottery came from the Inland Northwest?

O’Mara: I Didn’t Win The Lottery

I never used to buy tickets until I met my husband. He introduced me to the highs and lows of buying that ticket, checking the numbers and then being disappointed that we didn't win. We always talk about what we'd do if we win. He gets really detailed - last night he was already dividing up our winnings between our family members. It's a great dream, isn't it? The dream of taking care of everyone in your family? And all of your friends? The dream of giving to your favorite causes and charities without limit? I blame him for the “let down” I feel today/Maggie O'Mara, KTVB. More here.

Question: Do you feel a little let down today because you didn't win the Mega Millions lottery?

New Mega millionaire intro at 2 p.m.

OLYMPIA — The owner of one of two winning tickets in the Mega Million lottery drawing will be introduced to the public at 2 p.m. today, the Washington Lottery office says.

Before taxes, the ticket is worth about $190 million.

The name of the winner hasn't been released, but the ticket was sold in Ephrata, and the ticket holder made the trip over this morning for the ceremonial presentation of an oversized check.

Gov. Chris Gregoire joked at this morning's press conference that after meeting the winner at lunch, she'll ask for a loan for the state.

Post Falls Jackpot Winner Unknown

Item: Inland Northwest ticket-buyers share in Mega Millions fortune:Ephrata, Post Falls stores sold winners in $380 million prize/Betsy Russell, SR

More Info: 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.

Question: If you had won the Mega Millions jackpot, would you come forward immediately? Or wait, to put things in order to protect your privacy and yourself?

Mega Millions Ticket Sold In Post Falls

Item: Winning tickets for Mega Millions jackpot sold in Post Falls, Ephrata/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise

More Info: One of two $190 million winning tickets in the Mega Millions Lottery was sold in Post Falls, Idaho lottery officials announced today, splitting the big $380 million jackpot with a winner in Ephrata, Wash. The two big 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 but not the mega-ball, and won a $250,000 prize.

Question: Are you glad to hear that 1 Mega Millions ticket was sold in Idaho and another in Washington?

High Noon: Mega Millions On The Line

The clock is ticking down to the Mega Millions jackpot drawing Tuesday worth an estimated $330 million. The cash option is a staggering $208.3 million. The game is similar to Powerball — players try to win by matching five regular numbers plus the “Mega ball.” Tickets cost $1. Besides the jackpot, prizes range from $2 to $250,000. Drawings are held every Tuesday and Friday night/Associated Press. More here.

Question: What would you buy if you won the Mega Millions jackpot of $330 million today?

$250K Lottery Ticket Sold In Rathdrum

The Idaho Lottery has confirmed that a Mega Millions ticket worth $250,000 was sold for last night’s draw in Rathdrum, Idaho.  The winning numbers for last night’s $86 million draw were 11, 19, 40, 43, 44 and the Megaball was 33. This winning ticket matched the first five “white ball” numbers, but not the Megaball. … This is the second $250,000 winning Mega Millions ticket in Idaho, both of which were sold in the greater Coeur d’Alene area. The previous $250,000 winner was sold in Coeur d’Alene for the April 17, 2010 draw. That winning ticket has not yet been claimed/David Workman, Idaho Lottery. More here.

Question: What’s the most you’ve ever won in a lottery?