Man lied to­mum­about big lottery win

Al­co­hol and drug part of cliff tragedy

Sunday News - - WORLD -

TREN­TON, New Jersey The win­ner of a US$533 mil­lion (NZ$728m) lottery jack­pot wasn’t sure he could be­lieve his eyes. So when his mother called to say some­one in his new home state had won it, his re­sponse was: it wasn’t me.

Richard Wahl, 47, of Ver­non, New Jersey, was re­vealed yes­ter­day as the win­ner of the March Mega Mil­lions draw, the largest sin­gle jack­pot in the state’s his­tory, the fourth-largest in the game’s his­tory, and one of the 10 largest jackpots ever.

Wahl, a pro­duc­tion man­ager at a food ser­vices com­pany in the north­ern part of the state, says he plans to re­tire and take a cash pay­out, to­talling US$220.7m (NZ$300m) after taxes, over an an­nu­ity.

He de­scribed find­ing out he had the win­ning ticket late at night.

‘‘It was truly amaz­ing,’’ he said. ‘‘Some of my fam­ily mem­bers were sleep­ing, so I didn’t go and scream out. I walked up­stairs. I saw my wife . . . and said, ‘ Baby, we get to go on va­ca­tion’. She said, ‘What are you talk­ing about? Don’t be an id­iot’.’’

He said he checked the num­bers 15 times, kept the ticket in a fire­proof safe, and wanted to be sure the win was for real be­fore he told other fam­ily mem­bers.

‘‘The weird thing, is my mom ac­tu­ally called me be­fore I wanted to tell her, and told me, ‘I heard some­body in New Jersey won the lottery, was it you?’.’’ Wahl said. ‘‘And I wasn’t ready to share with her yet, so I told her, ‘Ab­so­lutely not’.’’

He bought the win­ning ticket as an af­ter­thought along with a soft drink at a petrol sta­tion in Riverdale in north­ern New Jersey, and said the num­bers were cho­sen by the ma­chine. ‘‘That’s why we be­lieve it’s God’s plan.’’

He said he was not a reg­u­lar lottery player but de­cided to play after talk­ing with a co-worker about how they would re­tire if they won.

Wahl said he went back to the sta­tion to fuel up after he won but be­fore he came for­ward. It hap­pened to be the same day the state lottery was pre­sent­ing a US$30,000 (NZ$40,760) cheque to the sta­tion for hav­ing sold the win­ning ticket. He said he saw all the cam­eras and de­cided to walk out, wor­ried that he might be recog­nised, since he wasn’t ready to come for­ward yet.

Wahl moved to New Jersey from Michi­gan in July last year for work. He said he would use a fi­nan­cial team to help him de­cide how to dole the money out between his fam­ily, friends and oth­ers. In par­tic­u­lar, he was think­ing of his mother, who lives on a re­duced in­come, and the fam­ily of his wife, in Mex­ico.

One of his dreams is to re­store a 1963 Corvette.

He de­scribed his fam­ily as hum­ble and said they wanted to help peo­ple.

‘‘For us, the plan is to do a lot of good things,’’ Wahl said. ‘‘It’s not only life-chang­ing money for me, but I want it to be life-chang­ing money for fam­ily, friends, peo­ple in need.’’

The lump sum op­tion to­talled US$324.6m (NZ$441m), but after 24 per cent in fed­eral taxes and 8 per cent for the state, Wahl is tak­ing US$220.7m home, ac­cord­ing to act­ing lottery ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor John White. Mega Mil­lions is played in 44 states plus Wash­ing­ton, DC and the US Vir­gin Is­lands. AP, Wash­ing­ton Post SAN FRAN­CISCO A woman was drunk when she drove her large fam­ily off a north­ern Cal­i­for­nia cliff last month, and her wife and sev­eral chil­dren had large amounts of a drug in their sys­tems that can cause drowsi­ness, au­thor­i­ties say.

Po­lice had pre­vi­ously said they be­lieved the Hart fam­ily died in a sui­cide plunge just days after au­thor­i­ties in Wash­ing­ton state opened an in­ves­ti­ga­tion fol­low­ing al­le­ga­tions that the chil­dren were be­ing ne­glected.

Pre­lim­i­nary tox­i­col­ogy tests found Jen­nifer Hart had an al­co­hol level of 0.102, the Cal­i­for­nia High­way Pa­trol said yes­ter­day. Cal­i­for­nia driv­ers are con­sid­ered drunk with a level of 0.08 or higher.

Tox­i­col­ogy tests also found that her wife Sarah Hart and two of their six adopted chil­dren had ‘‘a sig­nif­i­cant amount’’ of an in­gre­di­ent com­monly found in Be­nadryl, which can make peo­ple sleepy. None of the car’s oc­cu­pants were wear­ing seat­belts. AP

PHOTO: AP

Richard Wahl, left, poses for a photo with New Jersey Lottery act­ing ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor John White at a news con­fer­ence in­tro­duc­ing Wahl as the US$533 mil­lion Mega Mil­lions jack­pot win­ner.

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