A truck driver from northwest Georgia came forward Wednesday afternoon to claim half of the record $390 million Mega Millions jackpot, the richest lottery prize in U.S. history.
Ed Nabors of Rocky Face, about 90 miles north of Atlanta, was the first person to step forward and claim part of the jackpot from Tuesday night's drawing.
Nabors told reporters gathered at Atlanta lottery headquarters that he is "still numb."
He bought the ticket at Favorite Market in Dalton.
Because he took the cash option, Nabors will be taking home $116 million dollars, before taxes. Lottery officials estimated he would be left with about $80 million. Had he taken the annuity option he would have taken home $195 million spread over 20 years, before taxes.
Nabors who has been a trucker for about eight years, said he planned to do a lot of fishing, and plans to buy a new boat for himself and a new home for his daughter, who lives in a mobile home. He said he planned to drive a truck "for at least two more days."
The 52-year-old trucker said he went numb, "weak in the arms," when he found out he had won. He said he sat for about 20 minutes when his dispatcher, looking at the GPS and seeing that he had not moved, called to see if he was all right.
A co-worker verified the ticket and called the dispatcher to say he had won the lottery.
As for his immediate plans, Nabors said: "There are a lot of things I can do with this money. I can help a lot of people."
Lottery winners commonly opt for the cash payout on the advice of financial experts.
There were just two winning tickets sold in the 12-state game, lottery officials said.
The other winner was traced to Campark Liquors in Woodbine, N.J..
The winning numbers: 16-22-29-39-42, with the Mega Ball 20.
The odds of hitting it: about 1 in 176 million.
Tuesday night's drawing was held in New York's Times Square in ABC's television studio rather than Atlanta after brisk sales pushed what had been an estimated $355 million jackpot estimate to a record $370 million.
Even though the temperature was just 16 degrees, a handful of hopefuls showed up in Times Square to watch the drawing.
Millions of others had lined up at lottery agents in the 12 states to buy tickets Tuesday. New Yorkers bought more than 1 million tickets an hour, said Robert McLaughlin, the state's lottery director. Virginia retailers sold about 8,550 tickets per minute.
New York construction worker Andelko Kalinic had an idea of what he would do if his Mega Millions ticket paid off.
"Go to the moon," he said. "Why not?"
Some lottery hopefuls in Ohio never had a chance. Ohio's lottery ticket system went down statewide at about 10:20 p.m., 25 minutes before the deadline, Cohen said. The cause hadn't yet been determined.
"For those people who wanted to make a wager and didn't get a chance, we're very, very sorry," she said.
The largest previous multi-state lottery jackpot was $365 million in 2006, when eight workers at a Nebraska meat processing plant hit the Powerball lotto. The Big Game lotto, the forerunner of Mega Millions, paid out a $363 million jackpot in 2000.
Mega Millions tickets are sold in California, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Texas, Virginia and Washington state.
Top Ten Mega Millions Payouts
1. $390,000,000, Mar. 6, 2007
2. $315,000,000, Nov. 15, 2005
3. $290,000,000, July 2, 2004
4. $267,000,000, Feb. 28, 2006
5. $265,000,000, April 18, 2006
6. $262,000,000, Nov. 11, 2005
7. $250,000,000, Sept. 16, 2005
8. $230,000,000, Feb. 20, 2004
9. $225,000,000, Nov. 8, 2005
10. (tied) $220,000,000, April 14, 2006
10. (tied) $220,000,000, June 29, 2004