The winner of a $36.8 million Powerball jackpot, who kept his good fortune to himself since Jan. 8, ended the mystery Monday and came forward to claim his prize.
The winner is Peter Bapes of Thiensville, Wisconsin, lottery officials said.
Bapes chose a one-time cash payout of $20.2 million, rather than annual installments amounting to the full prize, said Andrew Bohage, a spokesman for the Wisconsin Lottery office in Madison.
In a brief telephone interview Monday, Bapes said only that he had not yet decided whether he would continue working, or how he would spend or invest his fortune. He declined further comment.
Bapes, 51, will reap his winnings within 10 business days, Bohage said. After taxes, he will be paid $13.8 million.
Bohage described the winning ticket's condition as "pristine," contrary to rumors in Thiensville that a woman had inadvertently shredded the winning ticket or that a Mayville man had thrown the winning ticket away and that it was buried under 10 feet of garbage in a landfill.
Though Bapes declined to participate in a news conference to announce the winner, he told lottery officials that he was not a regular lottery player. "He bought the ticket on a lark," Bohage said.
His ticket, a quick-pick in which a machine automatically selects the numbers, was sold at the Thiensville Mobil Mart, a Main St. gas station and convenience store.
Bapes paid $5 for five chances at the jackpot. One of those chances provided the winning numbers of 9, 11, 22, 24, 43 and Powerball of 2.
He told lottery officials that he delayed having his winning ticket validated "for family reasons."
Bapes is an employee of Clement Finance & Leasing Inc., a tank trailer sales and leasing company in Milwaukee. He is on a leave of absence from his job, a company representative said Monday.
Gail Petrovic, a resident of the Grand Ave. neighborhood where Bapes lives, was not aware of his good fortune until a reporter knocked on her door Monday afternoon.
"That is wonderful," she said, with a broad smile.
She described the Bapes family as friendly and said they attended annual block parties.
Bapes' lucky quick-pick was the first winning Powerball ticket sold in Ozaukee County since the game began in 1992.
Elizabeth Napper, Mobil Mart manager, said she was relieved that the two-month-old mystery was solved.
Customers have been inquiring every day about the identity of the winner, she said.
Napper did not know if Bapes was a regular at the station, but she said she would like to shake his hand.
"I'm happy that somebody came forward and the ticket wasn't lost," Napper said. "I wish I could meet the guy to congratulate him."
The owner of the Mobil Mart was paid a $100,000 commission, lottery officials said.
Thanks to Badger for the tip