Mega Millions Just Got More Mega: Jackpot Up to $380 Million to Be Split Between Two Tickets

Washington state winner hand-picked numbers, won on two tickets.

January 5, 2011, 12:04 AM

Jan. 5, 2011— -- The Mega Millions jackpot just got a little bit more "mega" this morning as officials upped their earlier estimate of $355 million to $380 million.

That amount will be split between the holders of two winning tickets, one sold in Washington and the other in Idaho. Today Safeway confirmed its store in Ephrata, Wash., sold one of the winning tickets, and can claim $50,000 for itself for selling one of the winning tickets. There is still no word from Idaho.

The numbers drawn in the second-largest jackpot in U.S. history were: 4, 8, 15, 25, 47, and the Mega Ball number was 42.

Scott Kinney, Washington state Lottery spokesman, said the lucky winner from Ephrata hand-picked the magic numbers at 3:30 p.m. Sunday. The unidentified winner purchased two of the 44 tickets sold that day, playing the same numbers in a different order. His second ticket earned $150.

Lottery officials in Olympia, Wash., have set a press conference for 2 p.m. Pacific where the family holding the winning $190 million ticket will be introduced.

"Idaho is a very lucky place," said state Lottery Director Jeff Anderson. "We are encouraging everyone who has played Mega Millions to check their tickets carefully for winners." The odds of having the winning numbers in Tuesday night's draw were one in 176 million.

Idaho is home to another big winner -- Kevin Anderson, of the town of Melba, had five of the six numbers on his ticket, so he'll get $250,000 before taxes. He had been out of work for two years but recently got a new job. He said he considered the win an early birthday present -- he turns 50 on Jan. 25.

"We danced for the next 20 minutes," Anderson said when he claimed his prize. "I needed another number to quit my job."

After taxes, he walked out of Idaho Lottery headquarters with a check for $168,000, money he said he and his wife would mostly save, and maybe use to buy a new car.

Their family struggled with finances and "couldn't afford Christmas, so this is just perfect," he said.

Lottery Director Jeff Anderson said, "We are also recommending all our players sign the back of their tickets prior to presenting it for payment. These tickets are bearer instruments, and we want to ensure our winners protect their play."

Mega Millions is played in 41 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The jackpot grew to $380 million because Friday night's drawing failed to produce a winner for the multi-state lottery's top prize, which was estimated to be $290 million.

It had reached $380 million after 15 consecutive drawings that started Nov. 12.

Mega Millions jackpots begin with $12 million and roll over to the next drawing until there is a winner.

Other smaller monetary prizes can range from $2 to $250,000, depending on how many numbers are matched.

The Mega Millions lucky numbers are eerily similar to the ones that haunted fans of the ABC television series "Lost" for six seasons. While the winners of Tuesday's jackpot are still a mystery, the dreams of hopeful players are filled with optimism, which is better than the fate of the Hugo Reyes character who suffered a string of bad luck after winning the lottery on the show.

Hugo "Hurley" Reyes (played by actor Jorge Garcia) may have been the unluckiest lottery winner on the ABC television series "Lost" but had you played his numbers in Tuesday night's Mega Millions drawing, you would have won $150.

"Lost" co-creator and executive producer Damon Lindelof said the coincidence might be good karma for the show's dedicated fans.

"Considering the show pretty much drove its fans crazy for six years, it seems only karmically just that it has finally decided to give back," Lindelof told ABC News exclusively.

Fellow executive producer Carlton Cuse said via tweet not to blame the show's creators if the Lotto connection, like many of "Lost's" plot twists and turns, remains unsolved.

"I'm sure there is a larger, mystical reason this happened, but in this case if it never gets explained, don't blame me or Damon," executive producer Carlton Cuse said via tweet.

The numbers Reyes used to win $156 million were: 4, 8, 15, 16, 23 and 42, four out of the six numbers picked on Tuesday.

The numbers played a pivotal role throughout the series; from Reyes' personal tragedies, sucha as the death of his grandfather, to the appearances on the island during crucial turning points in the storyline.

Congrats, You Won; Now What?

As players check their tickets this morning, if you'd won Tuesday's jackpot, what do you do?

First of all, you would never see the full $380 million. Off the top, the lottery withholds 25 percent for federal taxes, and then another 6 or 7 percent for those who have state taxes, which vary by location. And you still could owe many millions more.

Lee McDaniels won $5 million in September. On Tuesday, he was relaxing on a golf course outside Atlanta.

"After taxes and everything," he said, "I got about $2.8 million."

His advice for the big $380 million winner? Take some time to get your affairs together, study up and get a financial adviser.

"I would just take about a month before I would do anything," he said.

Margaret DeFrancisco of the Georgia Lottery Corp. had more advice.

"Change your phone number and learn how to say 'no,'" she said.

Then, there's always the question of whether you should take the annuity or the much lower one-time payment.

Financial analyst Ray Lucia said that, for purposes of this daydream and this huge jackpot, "I'm going to take the annuity payment of about $9 million a year, net of tax."

For the $380 million jackpot, the annuity would pay $13.6 million each year for the next 26 years, so you won't be able to spend all of your winnings at once.

The largest Mega Millions jackpot ever won was $390 million in March 2007, according to the Mega Millions website.

Elaine and Harold Messner of Woodbine, N.J., and Eddie Nabors of Dalton, Ga., bought the winning tickets ($195 million each).

What Can You Buy?

What to do with that check? How about move into Aaron Spelling's former 123-room Beverly Hills mansion?

Buy the Minnesota Twins with money to spare?

Or if you're a saver, put it all in a 5-year CD.

According to, you can lock in 2.27 percent in interest today. That'll pay you more than $3.6 million each year.

ABC News' Michael S. James, Kevin Dolak, John Griffin, Jennifer Metz and The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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