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S. Jersey couple claims $87 million share of jackpot

Mega MillionsMega Millions: S. Jersey couple claims $87 million share of jackpot
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A Cape May County, New Jersey, couple who won half of a record $390 million lottery jackpot claimed their prize yesterday, almost two weeks after the drawing.

Elaine and Harold "Barry" Messner hid their secret until yesterday and appeared to have carefully planned for the moment.

But there would be no giant check and smiling for cameras for the Messners. They would entertain no questions about just how delicious it must feel to win that many millions or exactly how they planned to spend the gigantic jackpot.

At the end of their winding, dirt driveway in the Tuckahoe section of Upper Township, they had already posted a fluorescent forest of signs akin to the Wicked Witch's infamous "I'd turn back if I were you" warnings. One sign said, "Beware of Dog."

A big, black dog barked nearby, but it wasn't the Messners' pet.

"They don't own a dog," neighbor Rosemary Trout said.

Through a lawyer they hired before going to the New Jersey Lottery to claim their Mega Millions prize yesterday — $87.4 million in cash, after taxes - the Messners declined all comment.

Harold Messner allowed the lottery computer to pick the winning numbers - 16, 22, 29, 39 and 42, with the Gold Mega Ball 20. The couple chose the cash-payment option for their fortune, which yields $116,557,083 before the 25 percent federal withholding tax.

"Those are all pretty standard questions, but I've been asked to say nothing," the Messners' attorney, Richard M. King Jr. of Linwood, said when asked the Messners' ages, occupations, and other biographical facts.

Harold Messner, 57, worked as a self-employed builder, neighbors said. Elaine Messner, 56, worked with him managing the business.

In a statement released through the state Lottery Commission, the couple said their working days were over.

"This is that early retirement we've always dreamed of," Harold Messner said in the statement.

The couple have two grown daughters and several grandchildren, neighbors said.

"They keep to themselves, but they are really, really nice people," Trout said. "I always used to see them at the Somers Point ShopRite when I worked there, shopping with their grandkids. I want to congratulate them; I think it's awesome they won."

The Messners saw the media swarm that began March 6 when the Lottery Commission announced that one of the two winners in the multistate Mega Millions lottery had bought a ticket at Campark Liquors in nearby Woodbine, according to lottery officials, and decided they wanted no part.

Instead of immediately coming forward and holding a news conference — as did the truck driver from Georgia who won the other half of the jackpot - the Messners hired a financial consultant and a lawyer and waited almost two weeks.

"We watched all the coverage at Campark Liquors, and what the lottery director and the lottery chairman said really stuck with us," Harold Messner said in the statement.

That free advice was taken chapter and verse from William T. Jourdain, acting executive director of the New Jersey Lottery, who suggested they seek legal and financial guidance.

"Harold and Elaine did everything right that you could ask of a winner in a big jackpot," he said. "They signed their ticket, they put it in a safe place, and then they sought legal and financial advice. Those are the steps we love to see our winners take before they come forward."

Now that they have, the Messners may be able to rest easy.

"I think it took us both until about Friday just to let the fact that we won sink in," Messner said in his statement. "After that, we signed the ticket and put it in a safe place. "Then we sought out financial advice, but when you're talking $88 million, it's always a good idea to let someone who manages money for a living lend a hand."

Messner said that when he thought he won, he checked the number twice and then called out to his wife.

"She had a very hard time believing it. Then, we didn't sleep for the rest of the night," Messner told lottery officials.

"We feel very fortunate and blessed," Messner's statement said. "Now we can do all those things we said we would do once we retired."

Messner also seemed a little philosophical when he talked to lottery officials.

"In a lot of ways, we're still recovering from the shock of winning all this money," Messner said. "I know this means we're officially a retired couple, but past that, Elaine and I are still sorting all this out. We have some ideas about what we want to do with this big win but haven't made any big decisions yet."

The Messners' prize goes into the record books as half of the largest jackpot in North American lottery history — an astounding $390 million.

The largest single-ticket jackpot in the New Jersey Lottery's 36-year history went to Harold and Helen Lerner, who won a $258 million Mega Millions jackpot in September 2005.

Philadelphia Inquirer

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19 comments. Last comment 10 years ago by KY Floyd.
Page 1 of 2
konane's avatar - wallace
Atlanta, GA
United States
Member #1265
March 13, 2003
3333 Posts
Offline
Posted: March 20, 2007, 2:07 pm - IP Logged

Huge congrats to them!!  Smart, very smart!!!  Yes Nod

Good luck to everyone!

    Avatar
    Coastal Georgia
    United States
    Member #2653
    October 30, 2003
    1866 Posts
    Offline
    Posted: March 20, 2007, 2:10 pm - IP Logged

    Instead of immediately coming forward and holding a news conference — as did the truck driver from Georgia who won the other half of the jackpot - the Messners hired a financial consultant and a lawyer and waited almost two weeks.

     

    Very smart....stay tuned to see which one of the MM winners disappears easier.

     

                                   

                  

     

     

      blueblueblue's avatar - DiscoBallGlowing
      New Member

      United States
      Member #39084
      May 10, 2006
      3 Posts
      Offline
      Posted: March 20, 2007, 2:32 pm - IP Logged

      Hello,

      Does anyone know how both winners could have chosen the qp?  I thought the computers never duplicated the quick picks.  Am I missing something here? 

       

      baby blue

        konane's avatar - wallace
        Atlanta, GA
        United States
        Member #1265
        March 13, 2003
        3333 Posts
        Offline
        Posted: March 20, 2007, 2:36 pm - IP Logged

        Hello,

        Does anyone know how both winners could have chosen the qp?  I thought the computers never duplicated the quick picks.  Am I missing something here? 

         

        baby blue

        Welcome to LP!  News here in GA indicated our winner did choose a QP.  My understanding is the store terminals generate the numbers so duplicates are a real likelihood.

        Good luck to everyone!

          blueblueblue's avatar - DiscoBallGlowing
          New Member

          United States
          Member #39084
          May 10, 2006
          3 Posts
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          Posted: March 20, 2007, 2:39 pm - IP Logged

          Wow! That's a newsflash to me!  TYVM konane.

            MissNYC's avatar - diva
            Westchester, New York
            United States
            Member #49345
            January 27, 2007
            168 Posts
            Offline
            Posted: March 20, 2007, 2:56 pm - IP Logged

            Congrats to them! I bet their kids and grandkids are happy, especially the ones old enough to realize what 80 mil means. I would kind of like to see someone young win a big lotto though. It always seems to be an older couple or a group of people. I think this much money is life changing for anyone, but it would be especially so for someone in their 20s. I'm in my early 30s, but I'll be crossing my fingers for years to come.

            "If you just keep believing, that dream that you wish will come true"

            Bed

             

              LuckyLilly's avatar - savy chick.png

              United States
              Member #50124
              February 26, 2007
              601 Posts
              Offline
              Posted: March 20, 2007, 3:12 pm - IP Logged

              I think their blabbermouth neighbors need to be whacked upside the head!  They basically said "There is no dog, go right ahead and try to rob them."  and "Two kids and a passel of grandkids to kidnap.  They have plenty of money to pay!"  Bash

               

              Other than that, it sounds like they're handling it very well.  Congrats to them.

                Todd's avatar - Cylon 2.gif
                Chief Bottle Washer
                New Jersey
                United States
                Member #1
                May 31, 2000
                23260 Posts
                Offline
                Posted: March 20, 2007, 3:24 pm - IP Logged

                Wow! That's a newsflash to me!  TYVM konane.

                This was a topic that was heavily discussed about a week ago (how lottery Quick picks are generated).  I'd suggest using the Search feature in the Forums menu above, because there was some good info posted.

                 

                Check the State Lottery Report Card
                What grade did your lottery earn?

                 

                Sign the Petition for True Lottery Drawings
                Help eliminate computerized drawings!

                  blueblueblue's avatar - DiscoBallGlowing
                  New Member

                  United States
                  Member #39084
                  May 10, 2006
                  3 Posts
                  Offline
                  Posted: March 20, 2007, 3:34 pm - IP Logged

                  TY, Todd- don't know how I missed it.  I remember the posts about each retail machine checking with a central server, etc., but I didn't catch that the server would let them duplicate the quick picks. I will check that out.

                   

                  baby blue

                    tnlotto1's avatar - logo
                    nashville
                    United States
                    Member #49896
                    February 18, 2007
                    1181 Posts
                    Offline
                    Posted: March 20, 2007, 6:28 pm - IP Logged

                    maybe their neighbors are jealous and that is why they talked so much to the press but im sure the neighbors wont get any part of the money now that they leaked that information without the couples permission.

                      TheGameGrl's avatar - character catafly.jpg
                      A long and winding road
                      United States
                      Member #17084
                      June 10, 2005
                      4524 Posts
                      Offline
                      Posted: March 20, 2007, 7:18 pm - IP Logged

                      Its nice when someone wins no matter the age. Im against * Too old to appreciate it anymore* and *too young* to know how to manage it attitude. Either you have the financial finese to know how to manage money or ya dont. Its that simple! Surely I've been a testament of penny wise and pound foolish in my life time, and age had little to do with it.  This couple has my support for laying low and keeping any one at bay. May they enjoy retirement , may they know the goodness of family, and spend with a kind heart :)

                      I wish the winds of change would head back to my state and into my home for some financial windfall, but since I dont have insurance its okay that I get a drizzle of good fortune from the lottery:)

                      Bravo to the NJ claimants!

                      ~~Is it true, Is it kind,Is it necessary. ~~~

                       Thanks be to the giving numbers: 1621,912,119 02014

                        Raven62's avatar - binary
                        New Jersey
                        United States
                        Member #17843
                        June 28, 2005
                        49674 Posts
                        Offline
                        Posted: March 20, 2007, 8:17 pm - IP Logged

                        Instead of immediately coming forward and holding a news conference — as did the truck driver from Georgia who won the other half of the jackpot - the Messners hired a financial consultant and a lawyer and waited almost two weeks.

                         

                        Very smart....stay tuned to see which one of the MM winners disappears easier.

                        He may not have collected his Winnings the way you would have, but he's got the Jackpot!

                        A mind once stretched by a new idea never returns to its original dimensions!

                          vulcanclassic15's avatar - Lottery-067.jpg
                          New Member
                          Ashtabula, Ohio
                          United States
                          Member #19785
                          August 6, 2005
                          16 Posts
                          Offline
                          Posted: March 20, 2007, 8:39 pm - IP Logged

                          Bad neighbors, If I won & my neighbors told the press this information without asking me, well, lets just say they would not like the "new" neighbors they would have when I give my house away!! Not hard to find that speacial neighbor no one wants around!! I might would even pay to move there curent junk pile in the front yard to the home I give them. See if the old neighbor still wants to give out that private information!

                            Plowing my way to a win!!!

                            Avatar
                            Coastal Georgia
                            United States
                            Member #2653
                            October 30, 2003
                            1866 Posts
                            Offline
                            Posted: March 21, 2007, 9:00 am - IP Logged

                            He may not have collected his Winnings the way you would have, but he's got the Jackpot!

                            Yes he does-and apparently that's all that matters....