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Winners of $208 million Mega Millions lottery jackpot step forward

Apr 29, 2005, 6:42 pm

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Mega Millions

Ralph and Mary Stebbins of Port Huron, Michgan have always wanted to travel, so they're using part of their third-largest-ever Mega Millions jackpot to buy a recreational vehicle.

And then there's the cow.

While mulling their options after winning the $208 million jackpot, Mary Stebbins mentioned her wish.

"She said, "I want to buy a cow.' She just wants to buy a cow -- a show cow," said Bob Kolt, a media specialist from Okemos representing the family.

Ralph Stebbins' wish list includes a garage to house a 1963 Corvette. The couple also plans to help their family pay some bills with their newfound winnings.

The Stebbinses picked up a check Friday at state Lottery headquarters for $1 million, less taxes, as a down payment on the jackpot. They let a Lottery official take a photo of them kissing as state Lottery Commissioner Gary Peters held up a symbolic $208 million check.

But the couple -- described by Kolt as "very simple people, very quiet people" -- didn't stick around for a news conference with Peters, who announced the winners of the largest-ever jackpot in Michigan Lottery history Friday afternoon.

"This is a great day for the Stebbins family and we wish them all the best in their newfound wealth," Peters said.

The couple chose to take their winnings in one payment, giving them $124.7 million, less taxes. They could have chosen to spread $208 million in payments over 26 years.

The Stebbinses bought their winning ticket a week ago Friday at the River District Supermarket in Port Huron. The Stebbinses have been buying five easy pick Mega Millions tickets a week on a regular basis, Peters said, adding that they discovered they'd won about 7 a.m. the next day.

Mega Millions is a multistate lottery game offered in Michigan, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Texas, Virginia and Washington. Jackpots start at $10 million with twice-a-week drawings. Players choose five numbers from 1 to 52 and a Gold Mega Ball number from 1 to 52.

The odds of winning the jackpot are one in 135,145,920.

Ralph and Mary Stebbins are in their 40s, have been married for more than 20 years and have three children ranging in age from their mid-teens to their early 20s, Kolt said.

Both quit their jobs after winning the jackpot. They also used their money to help several other family members retire, Lottery officials said.

Ralph Stebbins has done a lot of mechanical work in the past, Kolt said. Mary Stebbins was a $7-per-hour retail sales clerk at a local general merchandise story until winning the jackpot.

Kolt said the pair "have been very hardworking people and are very modest."

He added: "They're on the road as we speak. That's what they've always wanted to do."

The previous state jackpot record was $181.5 million won by Larry Ross of Macomb County's Shelby Township. Ross won half of the $363 million Big Game jackpot -- then the largest jackpot in North American history -- in the drawing on May 9, 2000.

All proceeds from the Lottery go to the state school aid fund to support K-12 public education. In fiscal 2004, the Lottery brought in $664 million for the fund.

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