Before Robert G. Swofford Jr. could come forward and claim his $60 million Lotto prize, he had to take care of some unfinished business: his divorce.
The 53-year-old Seminole County postal worker is expected to claim a $34.7 million lump-sum payout today in Tallahassee, ending weeks of mystery about who had the winning numbers - 7, 8, 28, 29, 31, 33 - in the Nov. 24 drawing.
Swofford and his wife separated three years ago. But two weeks after the winning numbers were announced, Ann Swofford served him with divorce papers and claimed a share of the prize.
Just before Christmas, the Swoffords and their lawyers hammered out an agreement. According to court documents, Swofford will pay the taxes, his wife will get $5.25 million and $1 million will be set aside to support their 11-year-old son. In return, she agreed not to seek any more of Swofford's winnings.
Most men wouldn't come out of divorce court smiling if they had to pay their ex-wife $5.25 million.
"I'm getting divorced, gladly," Swofford said Monday.
He said he might have been able to hold out for a better deal, but he was anxious to get the divorce over.
His estranged wife drove to his home when she saw that the winning ticket had been sold at a nearby store. He didn't try to hide if from her, he said, because he remembered a California case in which a lottery winner kept it a secret and then was penalized in court.
Lawyers for both sides say they expect the divorce to be finalized within the next week or two.
Judges usually look out for the welfare of any children before approving a divorce settlement, said Stann W. Givens, a Tampa attorney representing Ann Swofford.
"The child is well cared for," he said.
Swofford's attorney, William A. Greenberg of Altamonte Springs, said his client is hard-working and down-to-earth. "He won't be buying a million-dollar mansion or a fleet of Mercedes," he said.
Swofford is on leave from the U.S. Postal Service, where he is a forklift operator known to co-workers as "Bigfoot." He worked another three weeks - including overtime - after he knew he had the winning ticket. Swofford said he needed the money because he hadn't claimed the jackpot yet. His base salary is $41,000 a year, though he earned $65,000 in 2004, according to his divorce file.
Life hasn't been easy for Swofford.
In 1979, he was a Special Forces member when, he said, he was injured during parachute training at Eglin Air Force Base in northwest Florida. He was about 400 feet above the ground before his parachute finally opened and he hit the ground hard, severely injuring his arm, he said.
He has been with the postal service for 16 years. In the late 1990s, depressed and taking pain pills, he said he missed work and his mortgage company foreclosed on his home in northwest Seminole County.
In 1999, during the foreclosure process, Swofford filed for bankruptcy-court protection, staving off the sale of his home for about a year.
Despite the financial problems, Swofford has been a regular Lotto player, spending about $80 a week - $40 on each drawing. He has hit five numbers a couple of times, but about $1,800 was the most he had ever won.
Swofford normally picks 15 sets of numbers and buys 25 quick-picks, in which the lottery's computer randomly selects the numbers. For the Nov .24 drawing, he spent more than usual - $60, buying 20 extra quick-picks.
The next day, Thanksgiving, his landlady pointed out the winning ticket had been sold at a Cumberland Farms in Altamonte Springs. Swofford was pretty sure the one on State Road 436, where he usually buys his tickets, was the only Cumberland Farms in Altamonte Springs.
The landlady went out to get the newspaper, and he got his tickets, he said.
"It was the first time she had been interested in the lottery other than telling me I was wasting my money," he said.
When she pointed out that the winning ticket was a quick-pick, he put aside his regular tickets and placed his nine quick-pick tickets - each with five sets of numbers - face down, and began looking at them one at a time.
He was on the last line of the last ticket when he saw the winning numbers.
Florida Lottery spokesman Alfred Bea said his office is expecting the jackpot to be claimed at about 9 a.m. today, but he said he had no idea who the winner is.
"No one's a winner until they turn the ticket over to us and we verify it," he said.
Swofford said he plans to be generous with family and is already making plans to look for a house.
"I'm going to be able to help family and extended family," Swofford said, "and be able to get a house."
One thing will be different this time: There won't be any mortgage payments.