A Pennsylvania man’s superstition proved correct on July 24. His faith in some fortune cookie numbers won him a cool million-dollar payday from the Mega Millions lottery drawing.
Ronnie Martin drives to work in New Jersey every day and often stops for NJ Lottery tickets at a particular gas station along the way. For his numbers, he always used a curious source — numbers from the back of a fortune cookie’s paper.
Martin had been using the numbers for years, simply because he liked them. When he went to scan his ticket the next day, he received a fateful two-word message: See clerk.
The clerk didn’t even have to scan his ticket to know. He immediately declared that Martin must be the $1 million winner, even as he confirmed it with the scanner.
Martin said that he and wife, Shirley, will pay off their house and bills with the money. Then, the rest of it will go into savings.
Martin wasn’t the only Mega Millions winner in July
Roughly speaking, Martin will keep just over half of his huge payday. It’s not quite retirement money but having no debt and decent savings means he can pursue other things if he chooses.
Still, Martin came up short for winning the biggest prizes on Mega Millions. His seven-figure score came by merely matching five numbers without the Mega Ball.
In that same July 24 drawing, one lucky player matched all five balls plus the Mega Ball. That hit was good for a jackpot estimated to be worth $543 million.
Of course, lottery officials reach that number based upon a 20-year annuitization of the pot. As a general rule of thumb, lottery players can expect to keep about 30 percent of the advertised amount if they choose the lump sum and pay the proper taxes.
These lottery jackpots are crazy big
For Mega Millions, its largest jackpot remains the March 30, 2012 drawing. That night, Mega Millions swelled to $656 million — making it the third-largest in history. Three people shared in winning it.
Two jackpots at Mega Millions’s rival, Powerball, have been bigger still. An August 2017 drawing worth $758.7 million paid out to a single winner, and this win remains the largest single win of all time.
The granddaddy of them all, however, is in no danger of losing its top spot. The Jan. 13, 2016 Powerball drawing carried an estimated value of $1.586 billion. Three winners took the cash value, which was worth $327.8 million to each of them.
Still, there are worse things than suddenly becoming half-a-million dollars richer. The Martins will be sitting pretty for a while thanks to a tiny slip of paper and a fortune cookie.