msnbc.com
updated 1/20/2005 6:06:59 PM ET 2005-01-20T23:06:59

Archie Herring of Seattle just missed winning this week’s huge $130 million Mega Millions lottery jackpot, correctly guessing five of the six numbers drawn but missing the all-important Mega Ball number.

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He is crying all the way to the bank.

Herring, 68, played his five-number combination on 10 separate tickets, each one good for a second prize of $175,000, or a total of $1.75 million.

Herring brought his winning tickets into the Washington Lottery’s Seattle office Wednesday and walked away with a check of $1,312,500 after taxes.

"I would have liked to have won the big jackpot, but I’m very happy about this," Herring said, according to a statement issued by the lottery.

Herring, a longtime lottery player, has a system that finally paid off this week. Herring explained that he tracks the twice-weekly Mega Millions drawings in an effort to figure out what combination of numbers is likely to come up next.

Once he settles on a five-number combination, he generally plays it five times, each with a different Mega Ball number. This week he played his combination 10 times because of the unusually large jackpot. He correctly guessed the numbers 10, 23, 28, 39 and 51 but missed the Mega Ball number 5.

System or no system, the odds against guessing five numbers correctly are more than 2.6 million to 1. The odds against guessing five numbers plus the Mega Ball are 135 million to 1.

“We checked with lottery officials in other states, and nobody has ever had it played that way and hit like that,” said Lee Lee, a spokeswoman for the Washington Lottery.

Herring, who is retired, said he is considering buying a new sport-utility vehicle and taking a vacation to Aruba, and he plans to donate 10 percent to churches. He also told lottery officials he plans to continue playing the lottery just for fun.

He was declining media interview requests, a lottery official said.

A married couple in Georgia told reporters they had purchased the $130 million jackpot winner. Officials said a single winning ticket had been sold in Washington, Ga., but as of the close of business Thursday nobody had come forward to present it for validation.

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