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jim mccullar lottery

$380 million jackpot winners have 23 grandkids

A couple with 23 grandchildren claimed half of the $380 million Mega Millions jackpot on Thursday.

Jim and Carolyn McCullar traveled from their home in Ephrata, Wash., to the state capital Olympia for the ceremony.

Jim McCullar — who bought the ticket and said his luck includes having come back from hospital stays where he was pronounced dead three times — accepted the oversized check, and then promptly handed it over to his wife.

“We’ve been married 41 years,” he said, as his family looked on. “I know what to do with this check.”

“I’ve been lucky three times in my life,” McCullar added at a press conference. He said the other two times were marrying his wife and winning $18,650 at keno.

McCullar said he suffered from heart issues, including three heart attacks and receiving 12 medical stents, and had been pronounced dead three times at a hospital in Wenatchee, Wash.

He said he and his wife would be helping his family and others, citing a desire to “pay it forward”.

Aged 68 and most recently a real estate agent, McCullar said he retired from Boeing after 20 years in management.

The couple have six children, 23 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren, according to a website entry for the real estate company he worked at.

“Born a christian, will die a christian,” his entry stated.

McCullar said he woke up his wife after the drawing on Tuesday to tell her they had won. The winning numbers were 4, 8, 15, 25 and 47, with the Mega ball number of 42.

“I was pale, shaking. She thought I was having a heart attack,” he said.

She asked him how he was.

He told her: “I’m perfect.”

Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire was on hand to congratulate the McCullars, and joked beforehand that she might ask if the family could help with the state’s multibillion-dollar budget deficit.

“I’m going to go over at lunch and congratulate him and his wife, and ask them what they’re going to do with all that money,” Gregoire said with a smile. “And then, I’m going to be honest with them and ask if I can borrow it.”

In Idaho, meanwhile, officials waited for the other lucky ticket-holder to come forward and claim half of the prize.

That ticket was purchased in Post Falls, just 125 miles from Ephrata.

The prospect of winning the second biggest jackpot in history drew huge interest across the country as thousands of people lined up to buy tickets in the 41 states and Washington, D.C., where the lottery is held.

A day after the drawing, all eyes were on a region where most of the nation’s frozen french fries are produced, and on the similarity between the winning digits and the ones used by a character on the television show “Lost.”

The winners had to match five regular numbers plus the “Mega ball.”

Because of feverish sales right up to the evening drawing, the winners will share a $380 million jackpot, an increase over the previous $355 million estimate.

In March 2007, two winners, in Georgia and New Jersey, shared the richest prize — a $390 million Mega Millions jackpot.

In Idaho, the lucky winner also has the option of taking a nearly $81 million lump sum payment after state and federal taxes are withheld, said Jeff Anderson, executive director of the Idaho Lottery.

No state taxes would apply in Washington, where the lump sum payment would be $90 million after the 25 percent federal tax.

The McCullars said they had not yet decided whether to take the lump sum or 26 installments.

Idaho officials identified Post Falls as the town where the ticket was bought, but did not release the name of the place where it was sold, citing the state’s security procedures.

A couple with 23 grandchildren claimed half of the $380 million Mega Millions jackpot on Thursday.

Mega Millions Winner: Jim McCullar of Washington

McCullar and wife, Carolyn, take $190 million check.

Mega Millions Winners Go Public

Jan. 6, 2011— — Jim McCullar kissed his wife, Carolyn, as he claimed his $190 million share of the Mega Millions lottery, part of the second-largest jackpot in the history of the U.S. lottery.

“I think $190 million is pretty good for this little, old Mississippi boy,” Jim McCullar said. “People have been good to me all my life. It’s called pay it forward.”

MCuller, 68, and his wife live in Ephrata, Wash., a town of fewer than 7,000 people, where he works as a real estate agent.

McCullar is one of two people who picked the correct numbers to earn a share of a $380 million Mega Millions bonanza. The other winner, from Idaho, has not contacted lottery officials.

It was Carolyn McCullar’s idea to buy two lottery tickets last Sunday while they were grocery shopping in Safeway.

“We were in the store and I said, ‘We must get some tickets and use a card and put our numbers down,'” said Carolyn McCullar, 64.

The couple’s winning numbers were based upon their birthdays.

The numbers drawn in the jackpot were: 4, 8, 15, 25, 47, and the Mega Ball number was 42.

The couple’s second ticket won them $150.

They’ve been lucky before. Several years ago, they won at least $10,000 playing the Oregon lottery.

This time around, Jim McCullar discovered the couple had won hundreds of millions of dollars while watching the winning numbers be announced on television.

“I thought, ‘Oh my good Lord in heaven,'” he said.

Pale and shaking, he ran to his wife who was lying in bed with their three dogs.

Carolyn McCullar thought her husband, who has 12 stents in his heart, was having a heart attack.

“She said, ‘Are you ok?'” Jim McCullar said. “I said, ‘Yeah, I’m perfect. . Where are the lottery tickets?'”

Carolyn McCullar grabbed the tickets while her husband pulled up the winning numbers on the computer.

“She looked and she studied, she looked and she studied, and she looked at me and screamed,” Jim McCullar said. “Tears started flowing. All she could say, ‘Is this real?’ I said, ‘I pinched myself and I’m awake and this is real.'”

He immediately signed his winning tickets and put them in his wallet. They told their children, close friends and co-workers.

The couple has not decided whether they will take a $90 million lump sum payment after federal taxes or 26 annual installments.

There are no state taxes in Washington.

The couple said that they have no plans to “blow” the money.

“What this means to me is not a jet and traveling all over the world,” Jim McCullar said. “What this means to me is that the legacy is going to go generation after generation after generation. My kids, my grandkids, my great grandkids and their kids will never have to worry.”

The couple has four kids together. Jim McCullar has two more kids from a previous marriage.

The two, who love to golf, moved to Washington state in 2003. Jim McCullar previously worked for Boeing for 20 years as a maintenance instructor.

Washington Lottery communications director Scott Kinney said that the McCullars hand-picked the magic numbers at 3:30 p.m. Sunday.

The Safeway store that sold the winning ticket will receive $50,000.

Washington state will use the money it makes from the lottery towards higher education, Kinney said.

Idaho Winner Still a Mystery

In neighboring Idaho, state lottery officials said the winning ticket was sold in Post Falls, Idaho.

“Idaho is a very lucky place,” state lottery director Jeff Anderson said. “We are encouraging everyone who has played Mega Millions to check their tickets carefully for winners.”

The odds of having the winning numbers in Tuesday night’s drawing were one in 176 million.

When the Idaho winner comes forward, they can elect to take a lump sum option of about $81 million after state and federal taxes, lottery officials said.

Though the top winner has not come forward, Idaho is home to another big winner. Kevin Anderson of Melba, Idaho, had five of the six numbers on his ticket, so he’ll get $250,000 before taxes. He had been out of work for two years but recently got a new job.

He said he considered the win an early birthday present. He’ll be 50 Jan. 25.

“We danced for the next 20 minutes,” Anderson said when he claimed his prize. “I needed another number to quit my job.”

After taxes, he walked out of Idaho Lottery headquarters with a check for $168,000, money he said he and his wife mostly would save and maybe use to buy a new car.

The family struggled with finances and “couldn’t afford Christmas, so this is just perfect,” he said.

Lottery director Jeff Anderson said, “We are also recommending all our players sign the back of their tickets prior to presenting it for payment. These tickets are bearer instruments, and we want to ensure our winners protect their play.”

Mega Millions is played in 41 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The jackpot grew to $355 million because Friday night’s drawing failed to produce a winner for the multi-state lottery’s top prize, which was estimated to be $290 million.

On Wednesday, lottery officials increased the jackpot estimate to $380 million after a boost in last-minute ticket sales.

The jackpot grew to such “mega” dimensions after 15 consecutive drawings that started Nov. 12.

Mega Millions jackpots begin with $12 million and roll over to the next drawing until there is a winner.

‘Lost’ Connection?

The Mega Millions lucky numbers were eerily similar to the ones that haunted fans of the ABC television series “Lost” for six seasons.

The numbers the character of Hugo “Hurley” Reyes used to win $156 million were: 4, 8, 15, 16, 23 and 42, four out of the six numbers picked on Tuesday.

On the show, Hurley, played by actor Jorge Garcia, thought the numbers were cursed after suffering a string of bad luck after winning the lottery on the show.

Though Hurley may have been unlucky on “Lost,” someone playing his numbers in Tuesday night’s drawing would have won $150.

“Lost” co-creator and executive producer Damon Lindelof said the coincidence might be good karma for the show’s dedicated fans.

“Considering the show pretty much drove its fans crazy for six years, it seems only karmically just that it has finally decided to give back,” Lindelof told ABC News.

Fellow executive producer Carlton Cuse said via Twitter not to blame the show’s creators if the lottery connection, like many of “Lost’s” plot twists and turns, remained unsolved.

“I’m sure there is a larger, mystical reason this happened, but in this case if it never gets explained, don’t blame me or Damon,” he wrote.

ABC News’ Steve Osunsami, Michael S. James, Kevin Dolak, John Griffin, Jennifer Metz and The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Jim McCullar kissed his wife, Carolyn, as he claimed his $190 million share of the Mega Millions lottery, part of the second largest jackpot in the lottery's history. McCullar, 68, is one of two winners. A winner from Idaho has not contacted lottery officials. ]]>