For transparency's sake, and publicity's, too, the New York State Lottery requires its big jackpot winners to step up before the cameras, and flash that giant cardboard check.
But many winners these days, with prizes surpassing nine figures, would rather not show their faces on television or in print, said Jennifer Givner, a spokeswoman for the state lottery. And so, when that moment in the limelight comes, the winners come and go as quickly as they can, leaving no time for them to elucidate on how many Rolls-Royces they might be buying, or how big their fishing boat will be.
After all, when you are suddenly a hundred-million-dollar man, a lot of friends you didn't know you had suddenly start showing up.
All of which brings us to Tuesday morning, on a balcony inside Grand Central Terminal, when the winner of the $133 million Mega Millions jackpot claimed his check, after stepping forward on July 22. He spent $2 — letting the lottery computer pick his numbers, "Quick Pick"-style — for his ticket on July 7.
His name is Aubrey Boyce, a collections agent for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority from Kew Gardens, Queens. While he declined to say how much money he made at that job, Mr. Boyce said he was neither struggling nor rich.
Wearing dark shades and a staid expression, nary a smile to cross his lips, Mr. Boyce, 49, stepped up to the lectern and regaled reporters with a life history befitting a Twitter feed. He was born somewhere in South America. He has a wife and no children. And of his plans, well, he didn't really have any, only that he would probably go fishing somewhere warm.
His initial reaction was to be expected; he was in shock, checked his numbers twice via television, again on the Internet, and the next day at the nearest convenience store. His wife's reaction was also nothing out of the ordinary, either.
"She thought I was making it up," Mr. Boyce said.
And not long after confirming his prize, Mr. Boyce lawyered up.
Michael Davidov, Mr. Boyce's lawyer, who specializes in estate planning, said the advice he gave his client was straightforward.
First off, Mr. Davidov said, "Don't swindle it."
Believe it or not, some lottery winners do try to hide their winnings. The same goes for other big public prizes. Just think about Richard Hatch, the winner of the first season of "Survivor," who was convicted of tax evasion and sent to prison after he won $1 million on national television.
Next, Mr. Davidov said, weigh your options. Mr. Aubrey decided at the time of his ticket purchase to take the lump-sum payment. That brought his winnings down to $82,762,912. After taxes, his total prize was a shade above $54.6 million.
The last bit of advice from his lawyer: "Don't talk to the media."
Mr. Boyce's five minutes in front of cameras, and disappearing act thereafter, was befitting of Houdini. He did his lawyer proud.
Boyce lives in a $145,000 condo he purchased four years ago and earned $64,472 in his job as a collection agent at the MTA.
Boyce, who also quit his job today, collected his new fortune as the Trustee of the Archibald Trust — a management tool he recently created to help him administer his Mega Millions windfall.
Boyce, who typically spends $12 a week on lottery tickets, said he doled out $2 on the morning of July 7 for two sets of Quick Pick numbers for that night's drawing.
"I went to a different store the next day to check the winning numbers," Boyce said. "I saw my numbers and got a little nervous. I went online to double check and there they were again; 25, 27, 35, 38, 39, and [Mega Ball] 28. My wife and I haven't really slept since."
Boyce said he immediately signed his ticket and kept it locked safely in a safe deposit box until he and his wife Francis contacted lotto officials.
"We were hoping things might calm down a little bit" he said. "But when that didn't happen, we figured now was as good a time as any."
Boyce bought the winning ticket at Shiv Convenience on Hillside Avenue in Jamaica, Queens.
The store — which has been selling Mega Millions tickets since the game's debut in 2002 — received a $10,000 bonus from the New York Lottery for selling New York's latest Mega Millions jackpot winner.
"I used to play the lottery so I could win big," said Boyce. "Big enough to retire, have enough to live on. Now, I really don't know what I'll do beyond just taking care of my family."
(Click for full-size; opens in new window)Aubrey Boyce, 49, the winner of a recent Mega Millions lottery drawing, revealed himself to the public on Tuesday. With the cash option and after taxes, his prize is about $54.6 million.
(Click for full-size; opens in new window)The city's newest multi-millionaire is a lucky New York City Transit employee.