$216M Mega Millions ticket sold in Toms River

March 4, 2009 6:34:03 PM PST
Lottery officials announced Wednesday that the only winning Mega Millions ticket in the country, worth $216 million, was sold in Toms River, New Jersey.The ticket was sold at Singin Oil, located at 1215 Lakewood Road. The store gets a $10,000 bonus for selling the winning ticket.

The winners were 10 people who work at Chubb Insurance in Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, who pitched in for a shot at the prize.

It was Bob Space's job to buy 50 tickets. He bought them at Singin Oil on Tuesday, but didn't realize he was holding a winner until this morning.

"I checked and I rechecked and gave it to my wife. I gave it to Al, and he checked, so I was pretty sure I was good to go," Space said.

His co-workers say they didn't have their hopes up because the last time they played they only won seven bucks.

"So, I figured I would ask him 'What did we win? Four dolllars?' And he wrote back, 'No, we won," said co-winner Joanne Roth.

"I didn't believe it for, maybe, 15 minutes. They were arguing with me. And then, 50 people from all various departments are staring at me and I'm like, 'Maybe this did happen," said Linda Harrington.

Only nine of the winners were able to make it to today's news conference. The 10th person was on a business trip, and as it turns out it was usually his job to buy the tickets.

The estimated cash value of the jackpot is approximately $140.6 million, less the 25% federal withholding tax.

The big winners have not yet decided if they will take the jackpot in annual installments, or the lump-sum payouts. They also have to decide if they want to keep working.

But winner Todd Ellis says, one thing is for certain.

"I'm incredibly blessed," Ellis said. "I can't even absorb at this point."

Before the winners came forward, William Jourdain, the Acting Executive Director of the New Jersey Lottery had some advice.

"Please, sign the back of the ticket, put it in a safe place, and seek legal and financial advice before you come to talk to us," Jourdain said at a news conference at Singin Oil. "It is a large sum of money, and in today's economic times be careful with it!"

The winning numbers were: 26, 32, 35, 43 and 52. The Gold Mega Ball was 10.

Mega Millions tickets are sold in 12 states including New Jersey, California, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Texas, Virginia and Washington.

The announcement of this Mega Millions win came just three days after the two winning Powerball tickets were bought in Plymouth Meeting, Pa., and Dover, Delaware.

30 states take part in Powerball.

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