Holly Lahti came forward to solve the Mega Millions mystery.
The Rathdrum woman, described by acquaintances as 29 with two young kids and a boyfriend, answered the nation’s $190 million question by claiming her prize late Tuesday at the Idaho Lottery in Boise.
“She just about died (when she learned she had won),” said Brad Wilde, manager of Ady’s Convenience and Car Wash on Seltice Way in Post Falls. “One hundred-ninety million dollars is very hard to wrap your head around.”
Lahti purchased the ticket at Ady’s, a block from Inland Northwest Bank, her now former employer of more than three years. Wilde said Lahti bought the ticket during her lunch hour on Tuesday last week, then returned to the store on Wednesday to see if she was a winner.
Lahti is the second winner of last week’s Mega Millions jackpot of $380 million, the second-largest jackpot in United States history.
Lahti was not at a press conference in Boise on Wednesday during the announcement. She also was not available for public comment, said Idaho Lottery Director Jeff Anderson.
“At the time of the media event, Ms. Lahti was traveling to an undisclosed destination,” an Idaho Lottery press release states.
Lahti was a customer service representative at INB from August 2007 until Monday when she gave her notice at the Post Falls branch effective immediately. She also previously worked at INB’s Coeur d’Alene branch.
“She is a great woman and she’ll do great things,” said Suzanna Spencer, INB’s Post Falls branch manager. “She’s an amazing person and we’re really excited for her. She’s a young, energetic woman who will go places.
“We’ve been holding it a secret for a week, and that was the hard part.”
Jim McCullar, 68, a retired Boeing worker from Ephrata, Wash., was the first winner to come forward. The two split the $380 million prize. The odds of winning were 1 in 176 million.
While the winning local ticket has been claimed, it has not been cashed as Lahti’s election of the annuity or cash option is pending. If she elects the one-time cash option, Lahti would receive a check for more than $80 million after taxes. If she chooses the annuity, twenty-six payments over 25 years, her annual payment would be $4.9 million after taxes. She has 60 days from Tuesday to make the decision.
Wilde said Lahti is a regular customer at the Ady’s store, but she’s not a regular lottery player.
“She very seldom plays the lottery,” he said. “In fact, (a clerk) had to explain to her that she could pick her numbers or they can randomly be picked for her.”
Wilde described Lahti as a “very down-to-earth and thoughtful young lady.”
“She took time to get help and direction,” he said. “She’s very deserving, and she should be able to help a lot of people. I was extremely happy for her.”
Anderson called Lahti, an Idaho native, a “delightful individual.”
Wilde said Lahti came into the store last Wednesday with two tickets to check. Her boyfriend had purchased a ticket in Rathdrum and it, the first to be checked, was a $10 winner.
Then Lahti’s prompted a message that stated there’s a winner with instructions to contact the Idaho Lottery.
“The fourth random pick (on the $5 ticket) had the winning numbers,” Wilde said. “We knew she was the big winner, but due to protocol with the lottery and her benefit, we had to keep it hush-hush until she claimed the prize.”
Wilde said the winning ticket is not only good for Lahti, her kids and the store, but for Post Falls and Idaho. While the East Coast has seemed to dominate large jackpot winnings, luck shined on the Northwest this time. Ephrata is just 150 miles away from Post Falls.
“It’s nice to have it happen in Post Falls,” Wilde said.
The largest jackpot ever was $390 million in March 2007. Two winners – in Georgia and New Jersey – split that Mega Millions prize. Mega Millions is sold in 41 states and Washington, D.C.
For selling the winning ticket, Ady’s owner Dave Ady will receive $50,000 from the Idaho Lottery, the highest amount the state offers a retailer for a jackpot winning. The Ephrata Safeway received $1.9 million – 1 percent of the winnings – plus a $50,000 bonus.
“Mr. Ady would love to be a millionaire, but that’s not the case,” Wilde said. “The law varies in every state.”
Ady could not be reached for comment on Wednesday afternoon.
The Idaho Lottery did not release any information on Lahti or any photos like it normally does with press releases on big winners.
“We want to be respectful of our winner and to the extent possible, afford a certain amount of privacy as she begins to put her new life affairs in order,” Anderson said. “She has requested the media respect her privacy and not contact her until she’s prepared to speak.”
The winning tickets matched all five numbers (4, 8, 15, 25, 47) and the Mega Ball (42).
A $1 million winner who purchased a ticket in Post Falls for a Mega Millions draw in October still has not claimed the prize.
Posted on Jan 12 by Tatiana under Holly-Lahti
If I could hand pick someone to win a bunch of money, it would probably be a nice, mild-mannered, humble person who could really use some extra cash. Not a flamboyant loud-mouth who’d also seek fame alongside the millions, but, instead, someone who’d go on living their normal life while putting the money to good use. Someone young, too. Someone with their whole life ahead of them.
Given that, I couldn’t have picked a better Mega Millions winner than the woman who actually won the jackpot on Tuesday if I tried.
And that person is Holly Lahti. That’s right, folks. Holly Lahti just won herself a whole(l) lot(ty) of money. (That was just horrible. So sorry…) ABC reports that the woman is believed to be the single mom of two and is approximately 30 years of age. Her pull? $190 million. There was another winning ticket or else Lahti would have won twice that amount. (Quick quiz — what’s two multiplied by infinity?)
But here’s the best part. Lahti is shunning the spotlight. In fact, she wouldn’t even let lottery officials disclose her hometown. All that is known is that she hails from somewhere in northern Idaho. She stands in stark contrast to co-winner, Jim McCullar, who soaked up the limelight in a 30 minute press conference. In fact, Lahti declined the opportunity of a press conference altogether.
Lahti is used to handling a bunch of cash. She works as a bank teller. Well, worked as a bank teller. Sources tell a local ABC affiliate that she quit her job upon hearing the news.
Brad Wilde, the manager of Ady’s Convenience and Car Wash where Lahti purchased the winning ticket, was very complimentary of the suddenly wealthy woman. “She’s very sweet. Very down to earth. Just a really nice person. Good head on her shoulders. I think she’ll do very well.”
I hope he’s right. I know all about single moms. I fell in love with one and married her. And during our courtship, I saw firsthand how difficult her job was. Don’t get me wrong. Money will not make all of Lahti’s problems go away. But if she’s as down to earth as she seems to be, it sure won’t hurt her cause to have a few extra Benjamins lining the ol’ pocketbook.
But something tells me she won’t be a single mom for long. And given how low-key she’s chosen to make her life changing event, I’d be willing to bet one thing for sure: show me the man who ends up marrying her, and I’ll show you one lucky son-of-a-gun.
And it has nothing to do with his bride’s bounty.
Congratulations, Holly. Use the extra cash wisely!
Holly Lahti is a single mom from Idaho wins Mega Millions Lottery prize worth of $190 million Mega Millions jackpot. Now everyone is surprised and raises a question that how she will spend the millions she won in the Mega Millions Lottery.
The $380 million prize was spitted between the Holly Lahti and the co-winner Jim McCullar and his wife Carolyn, who stepped forward to claim their prize last week.
Holly Lahti is the winner of the $190 million Mega Millions jackpot. Holly Lahti is a 29-year-old single mom who is keeping a low profile and has requested that the lottery commission not even reveal where she leaves beyond somewhere in Northern Idaho. Currently, she is still deciding whether to cash in on the annuity or cash option of her winnings.
Congratulations to Holly Lahti and her family for their big win.