The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

National News

December 19, 2013

Georgia woman claims 1 of 2 winning lottery tickets

ATLANTA — On her way to work, Ira Curry heard on the radio that one of the winning lottery ticket numbers was her family’s lucky No. 7. She called home, her daughter checked the ticket and in an instant, Curry was a multi-millionaire.

Curry came forward Wednesday to collect half of the $636 million Mega Millions jackpot, the second largest in U.S. history. She’ll take the lump sum of about $120 million after taxes, which will be given to her in about a week or two. The other winning ticket was sold in San Jose, Calif. The winner there has one year to come forward.

Curry, her husband and other family members came to the lottery headquarters in Atlanta to claim the prize, surprising officials who thought the winner may take some time to get their affairs in order.

“She said she was just in a state of disbelief,” Georgia Lottery chief executive Debbie Alford said.

It wasn’t clear whether she ever made it to work Wednesday. Alford said Curry bought just one ticket and chose the numbers based on relatives’ birthdays and the lucky 7.

Curry, of Stone Mountain, lives in a neighborhood of brick and stucco houses with manicured lawns about 10 miles east of Atlanta. She lives in a two-story home with a two-car garage and a basketball goal in the driveway.

Other than that, not much is yet known about her. A Facebook page that appeared to be hers was taken down soon after her name was announced, and lottery officials would not say where she worked or give out any more information.

She didn’t attend the news conference and someone who answered the phone at her home said the family didn’t want any publicity and hung up. A man who answered the door said the same thing.

Neighbor Kaliah Ladler, 18, said the Curry family was humble.

“Some people get big headed but I don’t think they’ll get big headed. They will probably use it for good,” she said.

Francis Boudreaux, who lives across the street from the Currys, said he was happy for the family but sad because they will probably move now.

“I think they will start doing a whole lot of traveling,” he said.

Curry lives just a few miles from Stone Mountain Park, which features an 825-foot-tall mountain that covers about 1 square mile. There are golf courses, camping, bike and walking trails there as well as a carving depicting Confederate heroes of the Civil War, including Gen. Robert E. Lee.

Alford wouldn’t say where Curry worked or how old she was.

Curry purchased the ticket at the Gateway Newsstand in the Alliance Center building in Buckhead, a financial center in Atlanta. The office building is home to insurance companies, lawyers, financial services professionals and even the Brazilian Consulate General.

The newsstand is a small, narrow shop with one register. It can hold about 10 people at a time and it is located near the lobby.

Young Soo Lee owns the store with her husband, Young Lee. She grinned as she arrived Wednesday.

“I’m so excited and so happy now,” Young Soo Lee said. “I love my store and the customer.”

Other than the typical 6 percent commission on store lottery sales, the store doesn’t receive any bonus other than recognition.

The California store owner — Thuy Nguyen of Jennifer’s Gift Shop in San Jose — will get $1 million, lottery officials there said.

“When people hear jackpot winner was sold here, everybody want to come here,” Nguyen said. “They call my shop lucky Buddha.”

Nguyen sells a variety of items, including Buddha statues, Vietnamese DVDs, clocks and flip flops. The former hairstylist took over the shop four months ago after emigrating from Vietnam in the early 1990s.

The jackpot started its ascent Oct. 4. Twenty-two draws came and went without winners. Some $336 million in tickets were sold for Tuesday’s drawing.

 

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