OLYMPIA, Wash.— Jim McCullar arrived at Washington state’s lottery headquarters with $8 in his pocket — all singles. He left a multimillionaire, with the oversized check to prove it and a promise to manage the money for his family’s future.
"The legacy is going to go generation, after generation, after generation," said McCullar, flanked by his wife Carolyn and two of the couple’s adult children. "We’re not going to blow this."
The family stepped forward Thursday to publicly claim their half of the second-largest lottery jackpot in history. Whoever is holding the other winning ticket, purchased in neighboring Idaho, remained a mystery.
At a news conference in Washington’s capital city, the McCullars took hold of the ceremonial $190 million check, marveling at all those zeros. Jim McCullar, 68, then promptly handed it over to Carolyn, 63.
"We’ve been married 41 years," he said. "I know what to do with this check."
The $190 million would be paid in 26 annual installments. But the Idaho winner could choose to take an $81 million lump sum payment.
In Washington, where no state taxes would apply, the lump sum would be $90 million after the 25 percent federal tax. The McCullars said they hadn’t decided how to take the payment.
In Idaho, the lucky winner has the option of taking a nearly $81 million lump sum payment after state and federal taxes are withheld, state lottery officials said.
Jim McCullar, a retired Boeing Co. worker, bought his ticket at a supermarket in Ephrata in eastern Washington. The other ticket was sold about 125 miles away in Post Falls, Idaho, a suburb of Spokane, Wash.
The winners had to match five numbers plus the "Mega ball." The numbers were 4, 8, 15, 25 and 47, and 42 as the Mega ball.
The McCullars have played some combination of those numbers for years because they’re based on the couple’s birthdays. It’s worked before: Jim McCullar said he won about $18,000 several years ago playing similar numbers on a keno game in Oregon.
Jim McCullar — a Mississippi native and Vietnam-era Navy veteran — gave his wife a fright when he woke her Tuesday night with the life-changing news that they’d hit the jackpot.
Jim McCullar said he’s survived "a few" heart attacks, bypass surgery and 12 stents. So the urgent cry for his wife’s attention had her suspecting the worst.
"I hollered ‘Carolyn!’" Jim McCullar recalled at Thursday’s news conference. "Then I thought, ‘Oh — don’t holler like that in the middle of the night. She’ll think you’re having a heart attack.’"
"I thought it was happening again," Carolyn McCullar said. "He said, ‘I’m OK.’ But he didn’t look like it."
The prospect of winning the enormous jackpot drew huge interest across the country as thousands of people lined up to buy tickets in the 41 states and Washington, D.C., where the lottery is held.
In March 2007, two winners, in Georgia and New Jersey, shared the richest prize — a $390 million Mega Millions jackpot.
Jim McCullar said he had rough plans to give some donations to charities, though he declined to name which ones. He has already given his notice at the real estate company where he was working.
The couple has been house hunting, and knows they can afford a larger place — but not too big, he said. An RV might be in their future to visit friends and family around the country, and to "hide out" for a while as they ponder their new life.
"When we were first married, we had to peel cascara bark off of trees and sell it for cow laxative just to buy food for the kids," Jim McCullar said. "I don’t think we’re going to have to do that anymore."