Video: Second jackpot’s a charm for lottery winners

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    >>> the first of two lucky winners of tuesday's megamillions jackpot has come forward to claim his prize. a man who's $190 million richer to go along with a priceless sense of humor. here's nbc's lee cowan.

    >> i have got one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight dollars. of $190 million.

    >> no matter how many megamillions tickets you bought and lost. it would be nearly impossible not to be happy for jim mccolor and his wife carol. his joy is simply infection. he's father of six, grandfather to more than 20. he bought his $190 million winning ticket at this safe way in the tiny county of ephrato, washington. do you know who has the ticket?

    >> no, i have no idea.

    >> no, it wasn't me.

    >> all my relatives come and ask me if i won.

    >> reporter: everybody knows almost everyone here, though most knew that jim 's heart is a big weak. so when they found out that he won, no surprise his wife thought he was having a heart attack when he woke her up to tell her.

    >> she said, are you okay? and i said, yeah, i'm perfect.

    >> reporter: he showed her the proof and then they both lost it.

    >> tears started flowing down and i looked at her and i started crying and all she could say was, is this real? is this real.

    >> reporter: truth is, jim and carolyn had won once before, $18,000 in fact in a lottery years ago and jim had a confession. the numbers he used way back then, well --

    >> they're the same numbers we used to take all your money.

    >> reporter: he's a big winner in a small town , but not the only one. turns out the other half of the nation's second largest jackpot went to someone who bought a ticket in tiny post falls , idaho just 150 miles away .

    >> at least we have someone from idaho winning.

    >> so all those lines, all that hype and hope from coast to coast ended somewhere in small town america.

    >> it's going to go generation after generation after generation. my kids, my grandkids, my great grandkids and their children also will never have to worry because we're not going to blow this.

    >> reporter: for jim it's proof that every holiday season took turkeys to the food bank and delivered groceries to those in need, pay back is no myth. lee cowan, nbc news, los angeles .

    >> he rushes into his bedroom, his wife thinks he's having a heart attack . he's having a $190 million emergency.

    >> what a great guy.

    >> a great couple. congratulations.

msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 1/7/2011 8:20:01 AM ET 2011-01-07T13:20:01

A couple with 23 grandchildren claimed half of the $380 million Mega Millions jackpot on Thursday.

Jim and Carolyn McCullar traveled from their home in Ephrata, Wash., to the state capital Olympia for the ceremony.

Jim McCullar — who bought the ticket and said his luck includes having come back from hospital stays where he was pronounced dead three times — accepted the oversized check, and then promptly handed it over to his wife.

"We've been married 41 years," he said, as his family looked on. "I know what to do with this check."

"I've been lucky three times in my life," McCullar added at a press conference. He said the other two times were marrying his wife and winning $18,650 at keno.

McCullar said 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, Wash.

He said he and his wife would be helping his family and others, citing a desire to "pay it forward".

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Aged 68 and most recently a real estate agent, McCullar said he retired from Boeing after 20 years in management. 

The couple have six children, 23 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren, according to a website entry for the real estate company he worked at.

"Born a christian, will die a christian," his entry stated.

McCullar said he woke up his wife after the drawing on Tuesday to tell her they had won. The winning numbers were 4, 8, 15, 25 and 47, with the Mega ball number of 42.

"I was pale, shaking. She thought I was having a heart attack," he said.

She asked him how he was.

He told her: "I'm perfect."

Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire was on hand to congratulate the McCullars, and joked beforehand that she might ask if the family could help with the state's multibillion-dollar budget deficit.

"I'm going to go over at lunch and congratulate him and his wife, and ask them what they're going to do with all that money," Gregoire said with a smile. "And then, I'm going to be honest with them and ask if I can borrow it."

Video: Second jackpot’s a charm for lottery winners (on this page)

In Idaho, meanwhile, officials waited for the other lucky ticket-holder to come forward and claim half of the prize.

That ticket was purchased in Post Falls, just 125 miles from Ephrata.

The prospect of winning the second biggest jackpot in history drew huge interest across the country as thousands of people lined up to buy tickets in the 41 states and Washington, D.C., where the lottery is held.

A day after the drawing, all eyes were on a region where most of the nation's frozen french fries are produced, and on the similarity between the winning digits and the ones used by a character on the television show "Lost."

The winners had to match five regular numbers plus the "Mega ball."

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Because of feverish sales right up to the evening drawing, the winners will share a $380 million jackpot, an increase over the previous $355 million estimate.

In March 2007, two winners, in Georgia and New Jersey, shared the richest prize — a $390 million Mega Millions jackpot.

In Idaho, the lucky winner also has the option of taking a nearly $81 million lump sum payment after state and federal taxes are withheld, said Jeff Anderson, executive director of the Idaho Lottery.

No state taxes would apply in Washington, where the lump sum payment would be $90 million after the 25 percent federal tax.

Story: Here's the problem with winning $380 million

The McCullars said they had not yet decided whether to take the lump sum or 26 installments.

Idaho officials identified Post Falls as the town where the ticket was bought, but did not release the name of the place where it was sold, citing the state's security procedures.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.