Ira Curry is one of the luckiest people in the country as of Wednesday, when the Georgia Lottery announced in a statement that the 56-year-old Stone Mountain, Ga., resident was one of two people to hold winning tickets in Tuesday's massive $648 million Mega Millions drawing.
She didn't waste any time collecting her winnings, as she went to Georgia Lottery headquarters to claim her prize, which amounts to $173,819,742.50 before taxes because she took the cash option in what officials have said is likely the second-biggest jackpot in U.S. history.
The winnings will be taxed at a rate of 25 percent by the federal government and 6 percent by the Georgia state government, providing a nice cash infusion of about $17.3 million for the southern state's lottery-funded education programs as well.
Curry is joined by a yet-to-be-named California resident who also purchased a winning ticket in the drawing, which attracted mass attention nationwide for its huge jackpot, which turned out to be $648 million as opposed to the advertised $636 million due to additional sales after the lower number was announced.
“It’s unreal,” Curry told the Georgia Lottery Commission. “It’s like I’m still dreaming.”
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Curry found out that she had won after hearing on her car radio that the store where she had bought her ticket -- Gateway Newsstands in Atlanta's Alliance Center building, where she works as an underwriter, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper -- had sold one of the winning tickets, as well as one of the winning numbers. She called her daughter, who confirmed that she was indeed a winner, and she told Georgia Lottery that when she got the great news she "was calm because it was unbelievable."
Curry did not appear at the news conference announcing that she had won, choosing to accept the money privately beforehand, according to a news clip of the announcement by the Georgia Lottery Commission obtained by the New York Daily News.
The odds of hitting the Mega Millions lottery jackpot went from one in 176 million to one in 259 million in October, when the Lottery increased the number of possible number choices per ball. According to Tulane University, people are 1,000 times more likely to be killed by an asteroid or comet than they are to win the Mega Millions drawing.