Man lied tomumabout big lottery win
Alcohol and drug part of cliff tragedy
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
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.