New millionaire avoiding the spotlight
Somewhere in California, a man named Richard Furness Roberts is quietly sitting on $110 million.
The SuperLotto winner presented the coveted ticket he purchased at a South Pasadena liquor store to lottery officials Friday — nine days after his six numbers were called on the evening news.
But, apparently, mum is the word for the bashful millionaire — at least for now.
Lotto officials told disappointed members of the media that there would be no official press conference with Roberts — and therefore no picture in the newspaper of the smiling winner holding a giant check and no chance to hear him answer the question, "How does it feel to win the lottery?"
Officials said they couldn't even release the city their man of mystery hails from.
"This is kind of a different situation for us, a very strange situation" spokeswoman Catherine Doyle Johnston said with a sigh while relaying the news.
While attempting to remain diplomatic, Johnston said she tried to persuade Roberts to come forward — at least for a press conference — but his mind couldn't be changed.
"He said he would do his own press," Johnston said. "It was odd."
Roberts' $110 million jackpot was the largest California had seen in four years, and the sixth-largest in state history. The prize money kept building as the drawings went without a winner for 23 weeks.
Johnston said it is relatively unusual for a winner not to participate in scheduled lottery events — although it isn't unheard of.
Some don't want others knowing they have all this money, she said. "It scares them off."
As of Friday evening, Roberts had not chosen a payment option. If he chooses annual payments, they will begin at $2.75million and graduate to more than $5.6million by the 26th year before taxes.
If the cash option is chosen, he will receive a lump sum of roughly half the jackpot amount, about $57 million, according to Lottery officials.
At the Foremost Liquor Market at 301 Monterey Road, where the ticket for the July 5 drawing was purchased, lottery chatter was still circulating into the afternoon.
While interest had died down slightly over the last week, it picked back up again since a winner has been named, said store owner Singh Sidhu.
"People are still talking about it all day," he said.
Sidhu said neither he nor his customers recognized the winner's name.
But it doesn't mean he isn't local.
"It could be a regular — there are so many people who come here every day," he said.
Sidhu said that in addition to the $550,000 he received for selling the winning ticket, he is relishing an unforeseen benefit — his lottery sales have increased considerably.
"I'm seeing a lot of new faces come in here," Sidhu said.