Published January 13, 2015
Erika Greene is 20 years old and lives with her parents. Pretty soon her parents may be living with her.
Greene, of Dacula, Ga., was the first of three winners of the $331 million Big Game lottery jackpot to step forward. Her share will amount to $110,333,333.
"I'm still kind of in shock," Greene told an Atlanta radio station early Wednesday morning. "I still can't believe it. I know there's got to be something wrong."
At a press conference later that day, the young woman said she spent $10 on tickets. "That's all the money I had on me," Greene said.
About two hours before Tuesday night's drawing, Greene bought her tickets at a convenience store in the small northern Georgia town of Dacula, about two miles from her home.
She said she selected numbers on one ticket and let the computer pick the nine others. One of the computer-generated numbers had the winning combination — 07, 10, 25, 26, 27 and bonus number 23.
"I'm going to invest it and spend it wisely," said Greene, who works at a cell phone office. "I'm not going to work, no. I'm going to invest and let the money work for me."
A stretch limousine transported the winner, her boyfriend and her mother to the lottery office in style. She said she planned to buy a car and a house, but had no plans after that.
Rebecca Paul, president of the Georgia Lottery Corp., could not confirm that Greene held the winning ticket, but Neerej Dutta, manager of the convenience store where it was sold, said Greene had showed it to him.
Big Game winners can choose payments over 26 years or a reduced one-time sum.
Because Greene has opted for the single payout, her winnings looked Wednesday morning to be about $58 million — before taxes — but "could well be more than that" after the final ticket sales are tallied, Paul said.
If you haven't already checked, the winning numbers for the Tuesday night drawing were 7, 10, 25, 26 and 27, and Big Money Ball 23.
Two other about-to-be-very-rich, and so far anonymous, people in the Midwest and Northeast are holding the other winning tickets.
In Illinois, state lottery director Lori Montana said one winning ticket was sold in Burbank, a suburb southwest of Chicago.
"I sure hope it's one of my regulars," said Speedway gas station manager Debbie Murnane. "I want a red Caddy sitting out front."
Jan Reichard said that when she and other employees sold tickets for the drawing, "We were teasing them that we wanted Cadillacs."
The third winning ticket was sold somewhere in Union County, N.J., said Carol Hedinger, acting executive director for the New Jersey Lottery Commission.
Hedinger would not immediately provide further details, saying the agency had to first complete security procedures related to the sale.
Despite the long odds of winning — 76 million to one — people in seven states bought up tickets and daydreamed about how they would spend the money.
Roosevelt Walker, 30, said he would invest in the community as well as the stock market, building a youth center or a park. "Just help out with some stuff I wanted to do when I was growing up."
"I'm just gonna chill for a minute," said Douglas Hixson, 37. "Might take a vacation to Florida. I've never been outside of Georgia and I've never been to the beach, and they say it's always nice down there."
Sandy Johnson realized she wasn't one of the lucky ones after determining she had none of the winning numbers.
"It's not an investment that works," Johnson said at an Atlanta bar after the drawing.
The jackpot was the second-largest in U.S. history. In 2000, two Big Game winners split $363 million. The Big Game is played in Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey and Virginia.
New York and Ohio will join next month and the game will then be called Mega Millions. Washington state also plans to join in September.
Lottery officials say some jackpots will get close to $500 million, and the average will be $80 million. The first Mega Millions drawing will be May 17.
The Big Game, which was established in 1996 and will have its last drawing on May 14, starts at $5 million and averages $26 million.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.