staff and news service reports
updated 12/27/2006 6:39:42 PM ET 2006-12-27T23:39:42

The man who won a $208 million Mega Millions lottery jackpot with his wife in April 2005 has died, police and a family spokesman said.

Ralph Stebbins died Saturday at his home in Arcadia Township near Lapeer, Sheriff's Sgt. Andy Engster told the Times Herald of Port Huron. Family spokesman Robert Kolt said he suffered a heart attack. He was 43.

Ralph and his wife, Mary, elected to take a lump-sum payment of $124.7 million, less taxes. They could have chosen to spread $208 million in payments over 26 years.

The couple used part of their winnings to buy a recreational vehicle and said they planned to buy a cow, pay off bills and build a garage to house a 1963 Corvette.

Kolt said he was not aware that Stebbins had a history of heart problems or that he was feeling ill.

"He seemed healthy and he was a very active guy," Kolt told the Detroit Free Press for a Wednesday story. "I think everybody was surprised."

Couple quit jobs after win
Stebbins had previously worked for a well-digging company in Port Huron, where the couple formerly lived, while Mary Stebbins was a $7-per-hour retail sales clerk at a general merchandise store. Both quit their jobs after winning the jackpot and planned to help several other family members retire.

The Stebbinses purchased their winning ticket at a supermarket in Port Huron and had been buying five easy pick Mega Millions tickets a week on a regular basis.

The couple had been married for 23 years and had three children.

Stebbins, who became a grandfather in August, enjoyed working on motorcycles and other vehicles in his garage, Kolt said.

In October, Stebbins was charged with attempted murder, possession of a dangerous weapon and being a habitual offender for stabbing his daughter's boyfriend, with a pocketknife at an auction, the Port Huron Times Herald reported on its Web site.

The case was pending, the paper reported. Kolt said the incident was a family dispute.

In addition to Michigan, other states that participate in Mega Millions are California, New York, Texas, Massachusetts, Ohio, Maryland, Georgia, Illinois, New Jersey, Virginia and Washington.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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