By Jeff Burbank, Bay City News Service
The co-winner of a $648 million Mega Millions jackpot who bought the
matching lottery ticket in East San Jose emerged Thursday to claim the prize in
Sacramento, a California Lottery spokesman said.
Steve Tran, who will share the prize with a person in Atlanta, opted to go to the lottery's district office at the state capital to redeem his winning ticket, lottery spokesman Alex Traverso said.
Tran decided to receive the lump sum payment of $173.8 million, which the lottery will issue to him in six to eight weeks, Traverso said.
Tran, identified by the lottery only as a resident of Northern California, will have to pay 25 percent federal tax on the lump sum, or about $43,450,000, Traverso said.
He told lottery officials that after hearing media accounts about the Mega Millions winning ticket, he thought "Everyone was anxious, looking for the person," according to Traverso.
Before he knew he won, Tran thought that the winner "must be a lucky man," lottery officials said.
Tran said he and his family liked to travel to San Jose because of its large Vietnamese community.
On Dec. 13, four days before the winning Mega Millions jackpot numbers were drawn, he went to Jenny's Gift Shop at 1818 Tully Road in East San Jose and bought five Quick Pick tickets, according to Traverso.
The reason why he took so long to claim the prize is that he had bought tickets in a number of California cities while working in his job as a delivery driver, according to Traverso.
The tickets were "sitting in my house, on top of my drawer" and he was exhausted because he and his family had only recently returned from a vacation, Trans said.
"I woke up in the middle of the night," Tran said. "I remembered, I think I went to San Jose."
At about 3 a.m. Monday, he checked the number on his tickets, discovered he had a winning ticket and told his wife, who gave him a "massive hug," and then he informed his family, Traverso said.
According to lottery officials, Tran phoned his employer to say, "I'm really sorry boss. I hit the jackpot. I don't think I'm going to come in today, tomorrow or ever."
Tran also said that he is planning another vacation that "might run a couple of months," Traverso said.
The lottery office has a security detail at Tran's disposal to escort him to his bank so he can safely deposit the lump sum check, Traverso said.
Tran's ticket hit the winning numbers 8, 20, 14, 17, 39 and the Mega number 7 for the near-record jackpot, lottery officials said.
Mega Millions, with tickets costing $1 each, is played in California and 42 other states, as well as the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The odds of winning are 1 in 259 million, lottery officials said.
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