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Lottery awaits Golden ticket call from $1 billion Mega Millions winner, teachers or not

The winning Mega Millions ticket, with a jackpot of $1.05 billion, was sold at a Kroger in Novi located at at 47650 Grand River Ave. (Photo: Miriam Marini)

If a group of teachers won the $1 billion Mega Millions jackpot, as has been hotly rumored on social media, it certainly isn’t immediately apparent in educator absences from local districts.

The winning ticket was purchased at a Novi Kroger Jan. 22, but Novi Schools Communications Director George Sipple said there had been no change in attendance patterns over the past two days for any staff and a change was not anticipated.

“We’ve heard the rumors like everybody else in the community,” he said. “While it would be fantastic if a group of teachers or other staff from Novi Community School District won the lottery, we have no reason to believe the rumors are true.”

Northville Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources David Rodgers was himself out sick early this week, but reached by email, said he was not aware of any information related to the lottery.

“We had about 20 teachers out today, which is relatively low given the size of our district,” Rodgers wrote.

In Huron Valley, officials reported that absences early in the week were “a little high, but fairly average.”

“Wouldn’t it be great if, in the middle of a pandemic, a group of educators won one of the largest prizes in lottery history?” Superintendent Paul Salah asked. “It would be absolutely thrilling for those teachers and their families. I have no insider knowledge of the identity of the winner but I’m hopeful that many charitable organizations benefit as a result.”

South Lyon officials could not be immediately reached for comment.

Ultimately, Jake Harris and his colleagues at the Michigan Lottery office will be the first to know who the real $1 billion Mega Millions jackpot winner is, and they were still awaiting the call Tuesday .

Harris imagines that when the call comes, it might play out like it did when the Golden Ticket is found in the movie, “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.”

“Part of what is fun about it for us is it’s a random game of chance, you never know when it will hit or when they will come forward,” Harris, a communications specialist with the Michigan Lottery for the last 6 years, said. “It’s kind of like that scene in Willy Wonka, when they are digging for the chocolate bar and then yell, ‘I’ve got it!’”

The difference is the lottery officials don’t get the payday. But someone out there who bought a ticket at the Kroger, 47650 Grand River in Novi, has a ticket printed with the winning numbers: 4-26-42-50-60 and Mega Ball 24. After 37 drawings without an overall winner, that someone finally struck it really rich on Friday night, Jan. 22.

That person or persons has until Jan. 22, 2022, to claim the jackpot, the third largest in U.S. history, which if taken in a cash lump sum will be about $557 million after taxes.

The largest lottery club Harris has seen that won a jackpot is 19 people, all colleagues from a doctor’s office with 21 employees total. The two workers who didn’t chip in were pretty upset they didn’t get a cut of the win.

“The moral of the story is, if you are approached and they say, ‘Do you want to put $5 in?’, put the $5 in, because you don’t want to be left behind,” Harris said.

The $1 billion winner or winners remains unknown for the moment and could remain that way for some time. Harris said it is common for at least a few days, if not weeks or months, to pass before the claim is made as winners try to get their personal affairs in order. The winner’s identity will eventually be revealed as anonymity is not an option.

“For transparency reasons, it’s important to show that people are winning these prizes,” Harris said. “There’s a perception that people rush out of the woodwork to get to you. In our experience, that is not the case.”

While Michigan lottery officials have never had someone win a jackpot this big, Harris points to Julie Leach, a Three Rivers woman who won $310.5 million in the Powerball drawing on Sept. 30, 2015. She arrived at the office to claim her prize, did the obligatory publicity where she told media she and her husband were going to buy houses for themselves and their three children, and then disappeared from the spotlight.

“After media availability, we never heard from them again and haven’t seen anything in the news,” Harris said. “They faded from the public eye, that is what folks do.”

Harris said lottery officials were pleasantly surprised to get a return visit from Kevin Blake of Waterford only a few months after he split a $42 million Mega Millions jackpot with a Rhode Island winner in 2017.

Blake was still working, and was in Lansing when he decided to pop in and say hello.

Harris notes that many lottery winners continue to work, despite many people’s misperception that retirement is the first action someone takes after hitting the jackpot.

“When someone wins, you hear old wives’ tales of how they bought 17 houses and 42 cars, but from my experience, that is not how it goes,” Harris said. “They pay off the house or the car, and once in a while, they buy a new house or car or take a vacation, but most just want to live comfortably. It’s not about becoming rich and extravagant, just about having more for retirement.”

Such was the case for Farmington Hills’ Dave Smith who won $3 million in 2019 and planned to have a chicken dinner, although Harris admits a billion-dollar jackpot is a bit of a “different situation.”

“It’s an exciting time for us, we look forward to hearing from the winner whenever they are ready to come forward.”

Rumors swirls that a group of teachers won the $1 billion Mega Millions lottery, but local schools said there's no upswing of teachers absences.

Person in Michigan wins Mega Millions’ $1 billion jackpot, 2nd-largest total ever

The drawing for the $739.6 million cash payout was Friday night.

Mystery lottery winner puts Novi, Michigan, on the map

One lucky person is taking home a $1 billion Mega Millions jackpot.

Early Saturday, lotto officials announced a person in Michigan won the prize, estimated at $1 billion or $739.6 million should the winner choose a lump-sum payment — before taxes.

The winning ticket was sold at a Kroger in Novi, a northern suburb of Detroit — about a 30-minute drive from the city — the state lottery website confirmed. The winning numbers were 4-26-42-50-60 with a Mega Ball number of 24.

The winner’s identity has not been revealed, but, per state lottery rules, they must come forward to claim their winnings.

The winner will have two options to collect the record prize, the lottery said in a statement: “The first is an escalating annuity that offers an initial payment, then annual payments for 29 years. The player also may select a one-time cash payment of about $739 million. If a player selects the cash option, they will receive about $530 million after tax withholdings.”

The Mega Millions jackpot had increased to $1 billion for Friday night’s drawing.

It is the second-largest jackpot in Mega Millions history and the third-largest in U.S. lottery history, Mega Millions lottery officials said. The $1.537 billion won by a person in South Carolina on Oct. 23, 2018 is still the world’s largest lotto prize ever awarded on a single ticket.

This is the 18th Mega Millions jackpot won in Michigan, according to a lottery press release. The last winner in the state shared the prize with a Rhode Island winner on Oct. 13, 2017. Until Friday night’s win, the largest lottery prize ever won by a Michigan player was a $337 million Powerball jackpot. Donald Lawson, of Lapeer, won it on Aug. 15, 2012. On April 22, 2005, Port Huron couple Ralph and Mary Stebbins won $208 million playing Mega Millions — it was the largest Mega Millions prize ever won in the state.

Michigan is one of the original founding members of Mega Millions.

“About 97 cents of every dollar spent on Lottery tickets is returned to the state in the form of contributions to the state School Aid Fund, prizes to players and commissions to vendors and retailers,” the state lottery said in a statement. “In the 2019 fiscal year, the Lottery provided more than $1 billion for Michigan’s public schools, its fifth record contribution in a row. Since it began in 1972, the Lottery has contributed more than $23 billion to support public education in Michigan.”

The Match 5 winners were two people in Florida, one in Maryland, one in Missouri, one in New Jersey, one in New York and two in Pennsylvania. Each will take home $1 million. Also, two people — one in North Carolina and one in Virginia — won the Match 5 + Megaplier. Each will take home $2 million.

One lucky person is taking home the Mega Millions jackpot cash. ]]>