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9:35 PM Tue, Nov. 13th

Local may have won $250K in lottery

JAMES CHILTON/Miner<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->Hetal Dave, owner of the Gas Plus station at 2266 Kingman Ave., stands behind the counter alongside his lottery vending machine Wednesday afternoon.

JAMES CHILTON/Miner<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->Hetal Dave, owner of the Gas Plus station at 2266 Kingman Ave., stands behind the counter alongside his lottery vending machine Wednesday afternoon.

KINGMAN - The odds are good that one lucky Kingmanite is the second-place winner of Tuesday's Mega Millions lottery drawing.

Hetal Dave, the owner of the Gas Plus gas station at 2266 Kingman Ave., said he was informed early Wednesday that his station had sold a ticket worth $250,000 in Tuesday night's drawing. Given the station's location away from the highway corridor, Dave said it's very likely the customer was from the immediate area.

"It's mostly locals in here," Dave said. "We have a lot of regulars."

Dave said the ticket would have been sold some time between Friday evening and Tuesday afternoon, certainly no later than 8 p.m. Tuesday, which was when the drawing occurred. The winning numbers are 16, 22, 23, 26 and 35, with a Megaball of 31. According to the Dave, two winners in Indiana and Michigan got all six numbers right and will split the $91 million jackpot. The local winner was one of eight across the nation to pick the five winning numbers but not the Megaball.

Dave said the lucky winner has two options to claim their prize. They can either show up at the Arizona Lottery office in Phoenix, which is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at 4740 E. University Drive, or they can mail in a lottery claim form, which Dave said should be available at any Arizona Lottery retail outlet.

Tuesday's winner has yet to come forward, and if they're wise, it could remain that way for a while to come. Whoever purchased the winning ticket has 180 days from the date of the drawing to come forward and claim their winnings, and wealth management experts often advise winners to use that time to carefully consider their upcoming financial decisions before going public with the news, which exposes them to marketers, scam artists and "long-lost family members," all looking to cash in on the winner's good fortune.

"If they have a financial planner they're working with, that's the first thing they need to do, is go see that person first," said Monica Busch of Monica J. Busch Investments, a local financial firm. "If they do meet with a financial professional, they're going to be able to review everything with them, prioritize what they should or should not pay off for debt reasons and prioritize what revenue stream they need for the future."

Busch said she's seen situations before where someone will suddenly come into money, then fritter it away within a year or two. Despite the temptation, she said, lottery winners come out the best when they exercise restraint, set budgets for themselves and, most importantly, seek professional advice rather than that of their relatives.

"Family members are not the ones to go to," she said. "With the economy as bad as it is, they need to seek some outside help to lay down a financial footprint, how you're going to get from here to there and not squander it all."

Dave said the jackpot is easily the largest he's seen sold at his store since he took it over in 2006. He added that, because his store sold the winning ticket, he can expect to receive his own windfall of about $1,000 from the Arizona Lottery, though he hasn't considered what he'll do with it.

"I don't know, I haven't even thought about that," he said. "I'm more excited about the person who won the $250,000."

Tuesday's is the second big lottery win to occur locally in the past few weeks. In December, Fort Mojave resident Sheila Verke came forward with a $95 million winning Powerball ticket she had purchased at the Safeway store there. A 64-year-old substitute teacher, Verke accepted her winnings in a lump sum worth $49.9 million after taxes.

First launched in six states as "The Big Game" in 1996, Mega Millions has since expanded to 41 states as well as the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands. It awarded the biggest lottery prize in history on March 6, 2007, when two winners in Georgia and New Jersey beat the odds to split $390 million.

According to the Arizona Lottery, the odds of winning the Mega Millions grand prize is approximately 1 in 176 million, with the second-place odds slightly better at 1 in 3.9 million.