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Single mom claims $94 million Mega Millions lottery jackpot

Jun 14, 2006, 6:47 am

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Mega Millions

An El Paso single mother of two who worked three jobs is now a millionaire after claiming a $94 million Mega Millions lottery jackpot Monday in Austin, the Texas Lottery Commission announced.

Martha L. Cuellar, who chose the cash value option for $53 million, won the Mega Millions drawing May 16 with a ticket bought at the Good Time Store at 6390 Alameda, lottery officials said. The store selling the jackpot ticket is eligible for a 1 percent bonus, or about $940,000.

Cuellar, a licensed vocational nurse who worked two other undisclosed jobs, was joined by her children and her fiancé Monday morning in Austin to claim her winnings, said Bobby Heith, director of media relations for the Texas Lottery.

"She was very excited, as you can imagine," Heith said. "Staff asked her how many jobs she had, and she said three. They asked her how many jobs she has now, she said, 'Zero.' "

Cuellar had forgotten about the lucky ticket — one of three games she bought that day — and didn't know she had won until two days after the drawing when she heard some of the numbers on the radio as she went to work.

"I knew I had the Mega Ball so I stopped at the store to check the results," she said in a lottery news release. "When I got to my car and saw that the numbers matched I started shaking, but I still couldn't believe it."

After double-checking the numbers with her co-workers at the hospital, Cuellar called her fiancé.

"I was so excited I just told him in Spanish, 'Le pegamos, le pegamos,' which means 'We hit it, We hit it,' " Cuellar said. "He said, 'What, who did you hit?' "

Cuellar, who had won $2,000 in a scratch-off game in the past, now plans to retire.

"I'm going to buy a house and a car and take care of my son and daughter and the rest of my family," she said. "And my son wants to go to medical school. I'd have taken a fourth job if necessary to help make that happen, but this should make it a lot easier."

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