OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — No, Carolyn, it’s not a heart attack. It’s a fortune.
The man who bought one of two winning tickets in the $380 million Mega Millions lottery frightened his wife when he woke her Tuesday night to share the life-changing news.
“I was pale, shaking. She thought I was having a heart attack,” retiree Jim McCullar recalled.
When his wife, Carolyn, asked if he was OK, he replied: “I’m perfect.”
On Thursday, the couple and their adult children stepped forward to publicly claim one half of the second-largest lottery jackpot in history. Whoever is holding the other winning ticket, purchased in neighboring Idaho, remained a mystery.
At a news conference in Washington’s capital city, the McCullars took hold of the oversized check, marveling at all the zeros in $190 million. Jim McCullar, 68, then promptly handed it over to his wife, 63.
“We’ve been married 41 years,” he said. “I know what to do with this check.”
In Washington, no state taxes would apply. The lump sum payment would be $90 million after the 25 percent federal tax. The McCullars said they hadn’t decided how to take the payment.
In Idaho, the lucky winner has the option of taking a nearly $81 million lump sum payment after state and federal taxes are withheld, state lottery officials said.
Jim McCullar, a retired Boeing Co. worker, bought his ticket at a supermarket in Ephrata in eastern Washington, about 125 miles from Post Falls, Idaho, a suburb of Spokane, Wash., where the other ticket was sold.
The winners had to match five numbers plus the “Mega ball.” The numbers were 4, 8, 15, 25 and 47, and 42 as the Mega ball.
The McCullars have played some combination of those numbers for years because they’re based on the couple’s birthdays. It has worked before: Jim McCullar said he won about $18,000 several years ago playing similar numbers on a keno game in Oregon.
The prospect of winning the enormous jackpot 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.
In March 2007, two winners, in Georgia and New Jersey, shared the richest prize — a $390 million Mega Millions jackpot.
Jim McCullar said he had rough plans to give some donations to charities, though he declined to name which ones. He has already given his notice at the real estate company where he was working.
The couple has been house hunting, and know they can afford a larger place — but not too big, he said. An RV might be in their future to visit friends and family around the country, and to “hide out” for a while.
McCullar said the money will, of course, help his large extended family: six children, including two from an earlier marriage; 23 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
“The legacy is going to go generation after generation after generation,” he said. “We’re not going to blow this.”