Apr 13, 2018, 12:39 pm
Includes video report
By Todd Northrop
Friday morning the New Jersey Lottery revealed the sole winner of the mammoth $533 million Mega Millions jackpot won on March 30.
At an 11:00 am press conference (see video below), Richard Wahl, 47, stepped up to the microphone to tell the story of his life-changing lottery ticket purchase and to answer a few questions from the assembled press.
The prize is the largest lottery win in New Jersey history, and the fourth-highest Mega Millions jackpot ever.
The lucky winner stated that he will be taking the lump-sum cash option, which is worth $324 million all at once, instead of accepting the 30-payment annuity over 29 years that would deliver the full $533 million.
After initial tax withholdings, Wuhl will take home $220.7 million, according to the New Jersey Lottery.
"We're a humble family and we're going to keep our roots," Wahl told reporters Friday.
The winner said he was purposely appearing at the news conference without his wife and children so that he could protect their privacy. Several times he declined to answer questions regarding his family.
He did however say that his wife was from Mexico and he will be helping unspecified people from her home country.
Wahl, a production manager at a northern New Jersey food services facility, said he doesn't usually play Mega Millions but decided to buy a ticket after a co-worker convinced him they could retire early if he won.
And his lucky numbers? He just selected easy pick (in New Jersey called a "Quick Pick") and the numbers were completely random. "That's why we believe it's God's plan," he said.
"It's not only life-changing money for me, but It want it to be life-changing money for others: family, friends and people in need," said Wahl.
New Jersey Lottery officials quickly called a news conference for their superstar at Lottery Headquarters Friday a day after he came forward. Wahl waited two weeks before claiming his windfall.
Wahl was joined Friday by New Jersey Lottery Acting Executive Director John M. White, and Acting State Treasurer Elizabeth Maher Muoio. He was also accompanied by his financial advisers, who remained off-camera.
Lottery officials presented a $30,000 bonus check to the Lukoil mini-mart in Riverdale on April 2 where the winning ticket was sold.
The owner of the store, Ameer Krass, said he had been able to identify Wahl by reviewing surveillance footage. But he said he didn't try to contact the lucky ticket holder. He also urged anyone who might know him to give the winner "the space they deserve."
However Wahl threw doubt on that story, as he said he entered the store during the media crush and even spoke with the clerk who sold him the winning ticket — and it was questionable whether or not the clerk recognized him.
Wahl, who moved to New Jersey from Michigan, said his dream is to rebuild a 1963 Corvette and also hopes to do charity work with his money.
An analysis by local media found that the biggest Mega Millions winners usually take about 12 days to come forward. Wall took an extra two days. Lottery officials say it's not unusual for winners to wait even longer.
Daniel Mahler, a certified public accountant with Gisler & Mahler in Bloomingdale, said the winner is going to have to get used to saying, "no."
"This guy has to watch himself," he said of New Jersey's big winner. "Everybody's going to come after him. Everybody looks for a handout."
Unlike some other states winners don't have the option to remain anonymous in New Jersey, lottery officials said. They are also required to participate in a mandatory news conference.
New Jersey's only other appearance on the top-10 Mega Millions winnings list was in 2007 when a winner from the state shared a $390 million jackpot with Georgia, according to the Mega Millions website. That is now the eighth-highest win in the game's history.
New Jersey was the seventh state to join the consortium almost three years after the game began in the summer of 1996 as the Big Game. Today, 44 states participate along with Washington D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
VIDEO: Watch the press conference
NJ man claims $533 million Mega Millions lottery jackpotThe New Jersey Lottery revealed the sole winner of the mammoth $533 million Mega Millions jackpot won on March 30.PT22M08Shttps://img.youtube.com/vi/A582HHVX4Uw/hqdefault.jpghttps://youtu.be/A582HHVX4Uw2018-04-13T12:34:00-05:00
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