A Kirtland Air Force Base master sergeant who decided on a whim to buy a lottery ticket while picking up milk at a Raley's supermarket won a $93.4 million Powerball jackpot, lottery officials announced Friday.
John San Cartier, a master sergeant assigned to the 58th Training Squadron at the New Mexico military base, held the only ticket for the Aug. 10 Powerball drawing that matched all six numbers.
"If I hadn't been short of milk, I probably wouldn't have bought the ticket," he said, adding that he doesn't play the lottery often.
San Cartier, 33, said that on the morning after the winning numbers were drawn, he heard there was a winner in New Mexico on a morning radio report.
"I thought: 'Wouldn't that be amazing?' " he said.
That evening, after work, he checked his ticket.
"I looked at my numbers again and again and again," he said. He verified the winning numbers with the lotto web site and reconfirmed them by requesting a printout of winning numbers at the store. Then, he stored the numbers in a safety deposit box.
San Cartier, 33, said he tried to keep his good fortune a secret. But news that he was the winner spread rapidly among friends and even a few strangers who learned his identity.
When he heard news stories speculating about who the winner might be, he fought the temptation to come forward.
"I wanted to run out screaming in the streets, 'It's me! Hey everybody, it's me!'" San Cartier told reporters, waving a hand with an imaginary ticket in the air.
Instead, San Cartier said, he tried to stay calm even though he felt scared and anxious. He was granted a leave from the Air Force, which he has served for 15 years. He spent recent days seeking advice from financial advisers, tax specialists and lawyers.
On Friday morning, when he was ready to claim his prize, he walked into the state lotto office, wearing a neatly pressed blue oxford, khaki green slacks and carrying the winning ticket in his back pocket.
Lottery officials commended him for bringing proper documents to their office.
"Congratulations," said New Mexico Lottery spokesman Lance Ross as he handed the winner a giant mock check made of cardboard. "Use it in good health. Use it wisely."
Lottery employees who gathered to watch the ceremony broke into applause.
San Cartier chose to take a lump sum of $52.2 million, rather than spread the payments out in annual installments. After taxes, he'll receive a one-time wire transfer of about $36 million, lottery officials said.
San Cartier, who is married, declined to give any other details about his family, work or personal life. He said he is not in debt, but the money will come in handy.
"It's going to be good for me and my family," he said.
San Cartier said the money will certainly pay for his children's college education, but he hasn't made other plans. He will carefully study opportunities for business investments but hasn't committed himself to anything, he said.
"I don't have anything specific that I'm going to buy," he said, admitting that he briefly considered a sporty Mercedes that he saw online, but later decided that the $450,000 price tag was too expensive.
He said the only luxury he wants is "peace and quiet." Since winning, he said, it seems that thousands of people have learned of his prize and he's disconnected his home phone.
The prize is the second largest in New Mexico history, the largest claimed by an individual.
The winning numbers were 13, 31, 36, 38, 49 and a Powerball of 2.
Powerball, created in 1992 and launched in New Mexico in October 1996, is played in 27 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.