Nov 6, 2003, 5:03 am
All of us have probably dreamed of winning the lottery. You have a 1 in 135 million chance in winning the big Mega Millions jackpot. But somebody's got to win it, like Richard and Robin Mika of Savannah. They won the Mega Millions jackpot this summer: $50 million.
"I bought a carton of cigarettes, there was $4 left, so I bought four tickets," recalled Richard. He bought those tickets at the 7-11 on Derenne Avenue and later that day found out he was the sole winner of the jackpot. What would do with the money? WTOC paid a visit to the Mikas to find out how the money's changed their lives.
It's enough money to go out and buy practically whatever you want. Expensive homes, fancy cars. You name it. But the Mikas didn't exactly go crazy with their new wealth. "The first thing I did was to go buy him a watch," said Robin. Watches can run you thousands of dollars, but Robin bought a Seiko.
Now what about cars? "I had an '86 Toyota Camry and now I have a 2004," said Robin. "He had an '87 Jeep Cherokee, and now he has a 2004. I mean we finally have vehicles that he's not going to have to work on."
If you're wondering, no they didn't go out and buy a Mercedes, BMW or any other type of extravagant car. But they did buy a modest house and take a family vacation.
"Most ways it's not really much different," said Richard. "Too old and too set in my ways to go changing."
However, they do have a lot more headaches. "You just don't realize the enormity of it all," said Robin. "It's a wonderful opportunity and we can do a lot, but you just don't realize how much is involved."
"The taxes and everything that goes in with something like this," said Richard. "Bankers, lawyers, accountants," added Robin.
And then there are all the people looking for a handout. "We've had people come up wanting us to pay off their house so they wouldn't lose it," said Richard. "Help build an addition to their church all the way up to paying a man's business debts."
The Mikas have been generous, giving money and volunteering their time to the Red Cross, the nonprofit organization which helped them when they needed assistance. Robin was a housewife caring for their two children and for 14 years Richard worked at Candler hospital, pulling in all the overtime he could before injuring his back.
"While working in the maintenance department, I was also working on a construction crew, and after hours I'd clean the air conditioning coils, putting in 30 to 35 hours a week in overtime," he said.
He worked just as hard at his last job at the county water department. He even put in two weeks notice after winning the lottery. "JD had given me a chance to prove myself when I needed a job, so that's why I was giving him a notice for however long he needed," Richard said.
Robin says he did it because it's in his character and for that he deserved to win. "Nobody could deserve it any more because he has worked real hard to try to keep things together for us," she said.
From here on out, making ends meet should be no problem for the $50 million man or his loved ones. The Mikas took the cash payout option, so they took home about $19 million after taxes.
Robin and Richard Mika
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