Powerball - One $340 Million Winner (IF Paid In Installments)
IF Cash Value Option - The Winner Will Collect $110.1 Million
Originally Posted: Oct 21, 2004
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$340 Million Powerball Winner Steps Forward
Self-Employed Man and Relatives Plan to Buy Sports Car and Vacation, but invest Bulk of Winnings
Oct. 21, 2005 Steve West of Medford, Ore., is a wealthy, wealthy man.
West, a self-employed businessman, confirmed to ABC News that he and three other family members are the owners of the winning Powerball ticket worth $340 million.
"I still don't really believe that it's true," West told ABC News Radio. "It just really hasn't sunk in well. I'm told by everybody else that this is a life-changing situation, and I didn't plan on wanting to change that much. I mean, the money always sounded great, but I didn't want to change my lifestyle to go along with it."
West discovered he'd won when family members checked the numbers online.
"We didn't watch the Powerball drawing," he said. "We got a call from the other family members saying, 'I can't believe it, some of these numbers are matching.' And then she (a relative) started saying, 'All these numbers are matching.' And we thought, 'Wow.'"
"She couldn't believe they were matching, and she could hardly talk," West said. "She was just so panicked. And my wife, Carolyn, was talking to her. And it was pandemonium I guess was the way to say it."
The family had bought $40 worth of tickets, West said.
"We went over and looked at the ticket, verified that it's a correct ticket and just haven't slept well the last two nights," he said.
Talk about luck: It was the first time West ever played Powerball. He said he won't do anything crazy with the money, though.
"Of course, everybody dreams of winning the lottery, but I've never really made plans of what I would buy, because it never went that in-depth," he said.
"We're talking to our financial planner Tuesday and we're probably going to invest all of it or 99 percent of it," he added. "That'll still leave us a good small amount that we can take a vacation or buy some kind of a sports car."
For now, West will keep his day job, which he is refusing to disclose.
"I'm self-employed, and I still have been out to work yesterday," he said, "and I'm still going out today."
A secret worth $340 million
JACKSONVILLE -- Bank teller Robin Bell knew one thing for sure: "It wasn't my ticket, I can tell you that."
But someone bought the winning $340 million Powerball ticket in this Southern Oregon gold mining-turned tourist town and as of Thursday night, no one had come forward to claim the prize.
It could have been someone passing through. But for the folks here, it's much more entertaining to speculate that one of the town's 2,410 residents became an overnight megamillionaire.
"I hope it's someone who comes in here a lot," said Andy Gough, co-owner of the J'Ville Tavern, one of only two places in town where the ticket could have been bought. "I hope it's someone who really needs it."
Oregon Lottery officials said they won't know who the winner is until someone contacts them. The jackpot winner will get either an average annual payment of $7.59 million a year for 30 years or a lump-sum payment of $110.1 million after state and federal taxes. It was the largest jackpot in the history of the Powerball game played in 28 states across the United States.
In Oregon, the Powerball jackpot winner was one of six who had big days Wednesday. Four players matched five of the white balls in the drawing to collect $200,000, plus a bonus jackpot take of $653,000 each. In addition, a Portland couple won a $2.6 million Megabucks jackpot Wednesday night.
The odds of winning Powerball's huge jackpot were high enough -- 1 in 146.1 million. But to have so many winners in one drawing is nearly unprecedented, said Chuck Baumann, a spokesman for the Oregon Lottery. The odds of matching five numbers and not the Powerball are 1 in 3.56 million.
"Having someone win the Megabucks jackpot alone is great," Baumann said. "These other things happening are just amazing. Everything else is gravy. When it rains, it pours."
The last time a Powerball jackpot was won in Oregon was six years ago.
If Wednesday's winner was a Jacksonville resident, the secret held up throughout the day.
"We know who it isn't, by all the people who came in here and said it wasn't them," Gough said.
Gough later went home to check her car, because her husband, who was hunting, always buys a five-pack of tickets.
In fact the theory that the winning ticket might be in the woods with a hunter who doesn't know he's rich was a favorite theory at antler-festooned J'Ville.
Gough has more than sentimental reasons to hope the winner bought the ticket in her place. The retailer who sold it will get $100,000.
The odds are, that's more likely to be a few blocks away at Ray's Food Place. The market sold 4,317 Powerball tickets, compared with 407 at the tavern.
But what do the odds mean when lightning strikes twice in the same town on the same day?
Todd and Beth Zitzner of Jacksonville bought a Powerball ticket at Ray's and won more than $853,000 for matching five numbers. Todd Zitzner said he never buys lottery tickets but decided to purchase $20 worth recently. "I'm just lucky," he said while picking up their check Thursday in Salem. "It's a lucky town today."
Michael King and Jessica Warner, both 24, of Roseburg also had a winning ticket that matched five numbers and will collect $853,000. The other two $853,000 tickets were purchased in Tualatin and Woodburn, lottery officials said.
Throughout historic downtown Jacksonville -- with its two-story brick buildings housing cafes and gift shops -- everyone had an opinion.
If they're smart, they won't come forward for awhile," said one man who didn't want his name in the paper. "You could buy this whole town."
At Terra Firma, a gift shop, buyer Michelle Bostrom had a theory about the winner: "It's either one of my ex-boyfriends, or one of my soon-to-be boyfriends."
On a more serious note, Bostrom said she hoped it was "some that has a compassionate heart." She worried that winning so much money "will have a devastating effect on someone's heart."
At the Jacksonville Museum in the former Jackson County Courthouse, marketing coordinator Harley Patrick guessed that it wasn't any of the museum workers. "No one called in to quit today," he said.
But it was at the museum where reporters from as far away as Los Angeles found the metaphor they needed -- gold.
"Gold was discovered here in 1831. That's when the town took off," Patrick said. About 50 years later, the railroad went to the east, creating Medford, he said, and Jacksonville languished.
Tourism fuels the economy now. The entire town, which boasts some of the state's highest housing prices, is a National Historic District.
Striking gold again is sure to get the attention of the chamber of commerce types, said City Administrator Paul Wyntergreen.
Wyntergreen says news of the big lottery strike will be good for the town because lottery players like to buy where huge winners bought their tickets.
Rollin Wheeler, a bartender at the Bella Union, found some perspective on the entire hullabaloo.
It was beautiful foggy fall morning when he came to work, and Wheeler said he felt great. Then he heard his six lottery tickets were losers, and his mood turned sour.
"Then I remembered how good I felt just five minutes before. You've got to keep your sights in the right place."
Do we have winners?
By JONEL ALECCIA
They wont say for sure, but a pair of Medford parents might just be the winners of Wednesdays record $340 million Powerball jackpot.
Steve and Carolyn West conceded late Thursday that their two North Medford High School students could have let word slip about the familys good fortune.
"We did purchase some tickets," Steve West said. "Its OK to say that one of the tickets was a winning ticket."
But, Steve, was it THE winning ticket?
"As far as were concerned, its a distinct possibility," he said.
A wary West declined to divulge his age or occupation, but he said that the family will be free to discuss possible lottery winnings on Tuesday after he talks to a lawyer.
"I want to leave it vague," West said. "Theres a lot of scary things that Ive heard. Were trying to be as careful as possible."
And with $340 million at stake, who wouldnt be?
West wouldnt confirm where he and his wife bought their "winning" ticket, but he hinted strongly that Rays Food Place was in the running.
Oregon Lottery officials confirmed Thursday that the jackpot ticket was bought at one of two sites in Jacksonville either Rays or the J-Ville Tavern.
Spokesman Chuck Baumann also confirmed that Todd and Beth Zitzner of Jacksonville bought one of 49 runner-up tickets including four in Oregon worth $853,492.
Beyond that, there was only speculation about what potential winners such as the Wests might do.
They have up to a year to formally claim the Powerball prize at lottery headquarters in Salem, Baumann said. Most winners show up within a couple of weeks.
But most winners dont face the possibility of a lump sum of $110 million after taxes or 30 years of annual payments of about $7.6 million apiece, he added.
"This is unexplored territory," Baumann said. "As a rule, we would hope theyd take a little bit of time to talk to someone whos smarter than most people."
Powerball is played in 27 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Numbers for Wednesdays record jackpot were 7, 21, 43, 44, 49 and Powerball 29. Odds were more than 146 million to 1.
Across the Rogue Valley and especially in tiny Jacksonville, local residents speculated Thursday about the identity of the winning ticket holders.
"Thats really cool," said Jett Black, a grooming associate at Jacksonville Dog Grooming. "When I heard someone in Oregon won, I was thinking maybe Portland. Jacksonville? Wow."
At the J-Ville Tavern, where local resident Wayne Reavis won an $8.75 million Megabucks jackpot in 2001, a noontime crowd waited to hear if history would repeat itself. Its a boon for the winning store, too, which receives a $100,000 award.
Patron Lind McBeth turned back to video poker after acknowledging that he bought Powerball tickets for weeks before the record drawing. He said he could understand if the big winners wanted to remain quiet for a while.
"I imagine theyre laying low," he said. "The first thing Id do is take the phone off the hook."
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