A Missouri mechanic and his unemployed wife came forward Friday as holders of one of two winning tickets in the second largest lottery in US history: a $587.5 million Powerball jackpot.
Mark and Cindy Hill vowed to stay grounded and not let the massive windfall go to their heads after receiving a check for $293,750,000 at a press conference in their local high school in Dearborn, Missouri.
“We’re just normal human beings. We’re as common as anybody. We just have a little bit more money,” Cindy Hill told reporters.
The Hills, who appeared with their three sons and adopted daughter, said they were still trying to digest what has happened to them and haven’t thought too much about what they’re going to do with all that money.
“I think we’re going to have a pretty good Christmas,” said Cindy Hill, 51.
“We’re going to go on a holiday and take all our kids and grandkids. And I think we’re going to set up accounts for all the kids, grandkids and nieces and nephews for college.”
The family also plans to donate a substantial portion of their winnings to charity, Hill said, adding “how much does a person need?”
The owner of the other winning ticket, which was purchased in Arizona, has not yet been announced but a security camera may have caught his dance of joy.
Freddy Lopez, a cashier at Marlboro Village Exxon in the Washington, D.C. area, said the beefy, bald man — seen in a store surveillance video in a bright yellow construction outfit — was a regular customer “in the military” who lived nearby.
“He didn’t know (he was a winner) until he checked his tickets and he found out he was a millionaire in here,” Lopez told AFP on Friday.
“He couldn’t believe it. He said, ‘goddamn it, I got it, I got it,’ and then he started jumping up and down,” the cashier said, adding that the man was so excited he forgot what he came for _ to fill his tank with gas.
The man told other customers he bought his tickets in Arizona, where state lottery officials said he has 180 days to claim his winnings, Washington television station WJLA reported.
Upper Marlboro, southeast of the US capital, is close to Andrews Air Force Base.
Last April, a 37-year-old single mother of seven working at a McDonald’s outside Baltimore, Maryland caused a stir when she claimed she was among the winners of the record $656 million Mega Millions jackpot.
She never came forward with a ticket, however, and in the end it turned out the Mid-Atlantic state’s winning Mega Millions ticket belonged to two public school teachers and a school administrator who opted for anonymity.
Other Mega Millions jackpot tickets had been sold in Illinois and Kansas.
Lottery fever in the lead-up to Wednesday’s drawing was such that 160,000 tickets per minute were being sold, according to media reports.
Another 8.9 million players won smaller prizes totaling $131 million.
Nobody had won the semi-weekly grand prize for Powerball — available in 42 states, the District of Columbia and the US Virgin Islands — since October 6, swelling the kitty for whoever held the winning six-number combination.
The odds of winning stood at one in 175.2 million — compared to the one in a million chance of being struck by lightning in a given year.
Lottery winnings in the United States are subject to taxation, with winners typically getting a choice between an annuity spread over many years or a reduced amount paid out in a lump sum.
The Hills brushed off a reporter’s question about losing more than a third of their winnings to taxes, saying it was their duty as Americans.
They’re just glad that after two years of hard times — Cindy was laid off from her job as an office manager in 2010 and Mark was unemployed for more than a year after his company downsized — they’re finally going to have the money to take their daughter to see the ocean.
Her wish for a pony, however, will have to wait until she’s older.