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Virginia couple wins huge lottery

A retired truck driver from Virginia on Thursday claimed a $239 million Mega Millions jackpot, the second-largest lottery payout in history.
/ Source: The Associated Press

A retired truck driver claimed a $239 million Mega Millions jackpot Thursday, calling the second-largest lottery payout in history “no big thing to me.” His wife vowed to “shop till I drop.”

J.R. Triplett of Winchester said he bought five tickets at a store a few miles from his home and told his wife, Peggy, the day after the Feb. 20 drawing, “Sweetheart, I’ve got those numbers.

“Then she got down on her knees and thanked the Lord,” Triplett said in a statement issued by the Virginia Lottery. But he said “it didn’t excite me all that much. It’s no big thing to me.”

At a news conference with his wife, Triplett said he had no big plans for the jackpot but will probably invest in real estate “because they don’t make no more dirt, you know.”

Triplett, who appeared at the news conference with a toothpick tucked in the corner of his mouth, said he and his wife of 35 years would have some fun with the money, too.

“Sweetheart and I might get lost for a couple of days,” Triplett said.

His wife said, “I’m going to shop till I drop.”

A Virginia Lottery official said the winning April Fool’s Day claim had been verified.

“The ticket is good. Everything is cool,” Ed Scarborough said.

The $239 million jackpot is the world’s second-largest single-ticket lottery win. Jack Whittaker of Scott Depot, W.Va., won a $314.9 million Powerball jackpot on Christmas 2002.

Triplett purchased the ticket at the Red Apple Country Store in Stephens City, about 80 miles west of Washington. The numbers drawn were 1-13-20-21-30 with Mega Ball number 24. The odds of winning were one in more than 135 million.

The delay in claiming the prize had led to speculation that the ticket might have been lost or discarded. The deadline for submitting the winning ticket was Aug. 18.

The winner would be allowed to take the $239 million in 26 annual payments of $9.19 million before taxes or a lump sum of $141.5 million before taxes.