SEATTLE (Reuters) - A Washington state retiree who said he had been pronounced dead three times from heart attacks was identified on Thursday as one of two people who bought winning tickets in the $380 million Mega Millions lottery.
Jim McCullar, a retired aerospace worker who now dabbles in real estate, was presented with a ceremonial check for $190 million, his share of the winnings.
“I’ve been lucky three times in my life,” McCullar told reporters at a press conference in Olympia, Washington. He said the other two times were marrying his wife and winning $18,650 at keno.
McCullar said that he suffered from heart issues, including three heart attacks and receiving 12 medical stents, and had been pronounced dead three times at a hospital in Wenatchee, Washington.
The Mississippi native said that when he saw on television that he had won the lottery, he turned pale and began shaking, causing his wife of 41 years, Carolyn, to worry that he’d suffered another heart attack.
“At that time I thought I had won $355 million and I said, ‘Oh well, $190 million is pretty good for a little old Mississippi boy.’ “
The McCullars, who have six children, can accept their winnings in 26 installments or a lump sum of $90 million.
“What this means to me is, the legacy is going to go generation to generation, they’ll never have to worry, we’ll never blow this,” he said.
Meanwhile nobody has so far come forward to claim the other winning ticket worth $190 million, which was sold in the northern Idaho town of Post Falls, Idaho.
“The Pacific Northwest is green today, and Idaho is a very lucky place,” Idaho Lottery Director Jeff Anderson said in a statement. “There is a lot of excitement and enthusiasm for our winner right now.”
David Workman, spokesman for the state lottery, said it was not unusual for players to let time elapse between learning of their winnings and gaining them.
“It’s a lot more common in Idaho, especially northern Idaho,” he said. “It varies from person to person: sometimes they don’t immediately realize they have the ticket, other times they want to get their affairs in order. “
The mystery winner has 180 days to claim the prize. (Additional reporting by Laura Zuckerman in Idaho. Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Greg McCune)