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Oregon man claims record jackpot after finishing hunting trip

Dec 1, 2004, 8:26 am

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Oregon Lottery

Halfway through a two-week hunting trip, Portland-area accountant Art Brenner went into the Eastern Oregon town of Madras for supplies.

He checked his lottery numbers while there and discovered that he had won the biggest Megabucks jackpot ever -- a prize of $30 million.

With that knowledge, Brenner went back to camp and kept hunting elk.

"I still had a week of hunting," he said, shrugging.

Brenner, 65, came forward Tuesday to claim the $30 million jackpot, more than two weeks after the Nov. 15 drawing.

"I'll probably build a house and invest the rest," Brenner said after turning in a ticket with all six winning numbers.

Before Tuesday, only a female relative who bought the ticket for Brenner knew of his good fortune, he told reporters at a news conference.

The relative, Susan Cox, bought the ticket the day before the drawing at a 7-Eleven in Milwaukie as the two were preparing to leave town for the hunting trip.

Cox told lottery officials that for the rest of the trip, she kept comparing the winning ticket to the printout of the winning Megabucks number.

"It's really hard to understand that you're holding such a ticket," she said.

A receptionist at Brenner's Milwaukie office said that she had been deluged with calls Tuesday from friends and clients about the jackpot. She couldn't tell them anything; she hadn't heard anything from her boss about winning the lottery.

Lottery winners can either receive 25 annual payments or a lump sum of half the total. Brenner chose the lump sum and left the Oregon Lottery offices in Salem with a check for $9.8 million after withholding for state and federal taxes.

"The annuity gets about 3 percent a year," he said. "I think I can get better than that."

He shared some of his good fortune with Cox, directing lottery officials to cut a second check worth $99,000 for her from his winnings. Brenner has been divorced for about 15 years and has no children.

Brenner has been playing the same numbers for 16 years and buys a ticket for each drawing.

"I just picked the numbers that seemed to come up over and over again," he said.

In this case, he played four sets of numbers for three drawings on a ticket that cost $6.

The accountant declined to say where he lives in Oregon, aside from saying that he is in the mid-Willamette Valley.

"I don't want the throngs of people looking me up," Brenner said.

And, for the record, Brenner did not bag an elk.

"I had a hard time concentrating," he said.

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