OLYMPIA -; Jim and Carolyn McCullar stepped into the spotlight Thursday to claim the largest lottery prize in state history.
Jim handed the oversized $190 million check – half the $380 Mega Millions jackpot – to his wife.
“I’ve been married 41 years; I know what to do with this check,” he said.
The Ephrata couple joined family members at the Washington’s Lottery office in Olympia to share their story of how they came to be multimillionaires. They will split the jackpot with the holder of the other winning ticket, sold in Post Falls, Idaho. No one has claimed that half of the prize yet.
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Carolyn, 63, recalled how she thought her husband, who has a history of heart ailments, was having a heart attack when he burst into the bedroom pale and shaking.
“Oh my good Lord in heaven,” Jim, a 68-year-old retired Boeing employee, remembers saying.
The couple, who say they play golf together and donate food to neighbors in need, bought the winning ticket Sunday at a Safeway in Ephrata, a town of about 7,500 in Central Washington. They chose the winning numbers – 4, 8, 15, 25 and 47, with Mega Ball number 42 – based on their birthdays.
“I just had faith that one day I’d hit it,” Carolyn said.
This isn’t their first lucky hit with those numbers. They won more than $18,000 playing Keno in Oregon, using almost the same combination.
They acknowledge life will never be the same. Jim told the real estate company he worked for in Ephrata that he wouldn’t be coming back.
There also might be an RV and a modestly priced house in their future, but no private jets or mansions, they said.
“We’re not going to blow this,” Jim said.
To put the win in perspective, the City of Ephrata brought in $32.4 million in taxable retail sales in the third quarter of 2010, according to the most recent state Department of Revenue data – about one-third of what the couple could take home if they decide to take a reduced, lump-sum payment.
They also are more than wary of the attention they’ll receive from people looking for handouts, with Jim comparing their change in fortune to being a field mouse stalked by hawks.
“We’re gonna go hide out and let this absorb,” he said.
The couple hasn’t decided whether to take the payment in installments or take a $90 million lump sum, but say they will make sure their family, including six children, 23 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren, is taken care of for generations to come.
Nate Hulings: 360-754-5476 firstname.lastname@example.org www.theolympian.com/outsideoly