There's no telling what Ronald Willis had in the back of his mind to buy.
He wouldn't say. But whatever it is, he can probably afford it.
The 55-year-old Rialto man became the state's newest millionaire, parlaying a Mega Millions ticket purchased at a Riverside convenience store into a $120 million lottery win on a draw Tuesday, Sept. 11. He came forward to claim the prize at the California Lottery headquarters in San Bernardino on Friday, Sept. 14, where he faced a line of television cameras.
"I don't know any of that," Willis said, asked about his plans. "All I know is we're enjoying the moment."
For those keeping score with a spreadsheet, Willis gets $92.1 million if he takes the money in a lump sum. That translates into an after-tax take home of just under $70 million, according to lottery officials. If he takes payments, it will be $4.6 million a year for 26 years. Willis said he's still deciding what option to take.
A Louisiana native who grew up in LA, Willis told reporters that he regularly plays the lottery, routinely buying tickets from a store in Rialto using two lines of pre-determined numbers and a quick pick. He had never won more than a few bucks. It was the first time he bought a ticket from the 7-Eleven at 3740 Iowa Avenue in Riverside, purchasing it on a whim.
When lottery officials announced that the winning ticket had been sold in Riverside, he initially thought nothing of it because he forgot that he had purchased the ticket there. Once his fiancée, Yolanda Mangum, reminded him that he bought the ticket in Riverside he got it and checked it.
"I was kind of calm and collected about it," Willis said, flanked by Mangum, his brother, Bruce Willis, and six other family members. "I just sat down on the couch and I started thinking about it. I said, 'This is it.' "
Willis said he remained calm. His family, including four children, did enough jumping-for-joy for him.
The store that sold the ticket may do some jumping as well. It will get $600,000 from the state lottery.
The winning numbers were: 5, 11, 20, 33, 36 and Mega number 11.
It was the highest jackpot awarded in Inland Southern California in recent years.
In 2011, an 84-year-old Hemet man won a $7 million jackpot from a ticket purchased at a liquor store off Sanderson Avenue.
Several Inland residents had won a small share, resulting in several hundred thousand dollars, during the record $540 million nationwide jackpot in March.
The largest winning jackpot in California was $315 million in 2005.
Asked if he'd keep playing the lottery, Willis laughed.
"Yes," he said. "To win more."
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