Here’s the NJ guy who won the $533M Mega Millions jackpot
LAWRENCE — The winner of the Mega Millions jackpot was not a regular player of the game and has only lived in New Jersey since July.
Richard Wahl, of Vernon, attended a news conference Friday at NJ Lottery headquarters and said he moved from Michigan to take a job with AAK Food Services in Hillside. He spent $20 on quick pick tickets and a Diet Coke just hours before the numbers were drawn.
The prize was a $533 million annuity but he is taking the $324.6 million cash option instead. Wahl said he is quitting his job as a production manager.
The winning ticket was purchased at Riverdale South Lukoil in Riverdale. Its owners already received a bonus check of $30,000 for selling the single winning ticket.
His wife was folding laundry late on the Friday night when he checked the numbers and told her he'd let out a scream if he won. "We're going on vacation, we can retire."
Wahl was happy at the smaller prizes he won as he came to realize he had a winning ticket. "It was truly amazing. Some of my family members were sleeping so I didn't scream out. I walked upstairs and told my wife 'baby, we get to go on vacation."
The 47-year-old said he believes that God has a plan, "so for us the plan is to do a lot of good things for with it. It's not only life-changing for me but I'd like it to be life-changing for others. Family, friends, people in need. We're going to try and do some good things with it."
The family stayed home all weekend because Wahl didn't want to lose the ticket or it get stolen. He said he kept the ticket in a fire proof sale and checked the number 15 times over the weekend "in case it magically changed or something." When his mother called and asked if he won when she heard the winner was from New Jersey Wahl said he wasn't ready to share the news/
"I told her 'absolutely not mother. You know if it was me I'd be jumping around for joy,'" Wahl said.
Wahl said he went to station the day of the bonus check presentation for gas but immediately left and drove to lottery headquarters to present his ticket.
Wahl said for his family's protection he would not reveal his wife's name or confirm if he had children except to say she is from Mexico. "First and foremost my family's safety is more important," and wanted to make sure that no one bothers the rest of his family.
The lottery said on its website that it operates in compliance with the disclosure requirements ofboth state law and the Lottery's enabling legislation and rules and regulations. A winner does not have to have a press event but their name is considered public record available to anyone who asks including the media.
He said they are heading out on a vacation and he will make sure his mother is financially set for life and help his family's wife in Mexico. He'll also pursue his dream of rebuilding a 1963 Corvette.
The jackpot started growing in January for 24 draws. There were over 996,000 winners during that run, including three million-dollar winners and 27 $10,000 winners.