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Boise man claims $220.3 million lottery jackpot

Jun 1, 2005, 2:55 am

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A Boise man in his thirties who had been playing the same numbers the past four years has come forward with the $220.3 million winning Powerball ticket, a record jackpot for the state.

Idaho Lottery Commission Director Roger Simmons said officials were withholding the man's name until he can hire an attorney and financial adviser to help him decide whether to take the jackpot in 30 annual installments of $7.4 million or as a one-time payout of $125.3 million before taxes.

Lottery officials estimate that after taxes, the unmarried Boise man would pocket approximately $84 million if he selects the payout option.

"I'm trying to give him some space and let him sort everything out," Simmons said. "He was relatively calm by the time I met with him, even though he had only known for about an hour that he had won."

The $4 winning ticket in the multistate lottery was bought Saturday at Jackson's Food Store on Orchard Street in central Boise, the same convenience store that sold the previous record Idaho Powerball jackpot ticket 10 years ago. Pam Hiatt of Boise claimed that $87 million grand prize on June 5, 1995.

Simmons said the latest winner brought the ticket to state lottery headquarters Monday afternoon with a female friend after he went into another convenience store in southeast Boise and asked a clerk what the winning numbers were from Saturday night's drawing.

"Everything got a little crazy in the store," Simmons said. The Jackson's store will receive a $50,000 bonus for selling the winning ticket, while the state of Idaho would receive an instant $10 million income tax windfall if the man chooses to take the payout rather than the 30-year annuity.

The Boise man had played the winning numbers - 39-24-05-28-07, with Powerball 36 and Power Play 04 - consistently the past four years, Simmons said. When he bought the ticket Saturday, he made a mistake on the first line of "white ball" numbers, getting all the winning numbers but one. Instead of starting over again, Simmons said the man decided to play that line anyway and put the series of numbers he normally played on the second line of the ticket, along with two additional lines of numbers for a total bet of $4.

The second line turned out to be the $220.3 million winner, while the first line paid out another $5,000.

"I guess that's chump change now," said Simmons.

Idaho Lottery officials verified the winning ticket Monday but the man had not yet submitted it for processing. Until he does, "my understanding is he is keeping the ticket in a very safe place," Simmons said.

State lottery rules require disclosure of the winner's name upon presentation of the winnings, although there has never been a legal test of the requirement. Simmons said the man has asked to remain anonymous.

"I've told him the problem with me keeping his name secret lies in the integrity of the game," said Simmons. "I have to let everybody in the state know this is a legitimate game and this guy is totally isolated from our commission employees, their relatives and our vendors."

From a marketing standpoint, the Idaho Lottery Commission would also like the winner to participate in a press conference.

"I'd love to have him come forward publicly because he is a very intelligent individual who doesn't fit the mold that you hear so often that the only people who ever play the lottery are the poor and uneducated," said Simmons.

Powerball is played in 29 U.S. states and territories. The largest Powerball jackpot ever won by a single-ticket holder was on Christmas Day 2002, when a $314.9-million grand prize was won. Saturday night's jackpot was the sixth-highest Powerball grand prize. The odds of winning are listed at one in 120,526,770.

There has been a spate of lottery winnings in Idaho recently. In February, 22-year-old Eric Kyle of Boise won $18.7 million in the Powerball game. Earlier this month, eight employees at the Wood River Journal in Hailey matched four of five numbers to win a $100,000 prize.

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