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Georgia Man Makes History

Last Updated: Tuesday 19th September 2006, 13:37 pm

Last Friday's Mega Millions lottery jackpot of $163,000,000 has been claimed by a 52 year old maintenance man. Ben Chason, who is from Bainbridge, has now made lottery history in the state of Georgia for being the largest ever winner.

Under Mega Millions rules, Ben had to choose between receiving an annuity or taking a lump sum. He opted for the latter and walked away with $93,433,255, although this sum is taxable. Even so, the quick pick ticket he bought has brought him a very hefty fortune (it will be around $66 million after deductions) and Ben now says that he is officially retired.

Ben purchased a couple of tickets from a convenience store near his home on Thursday, just one day before the Mega Millions draw itself. But he didn't realise that he'd won until he returned to the store on Sunday and checked his numbers. "There was a printout of the winning numbers on the counter, and I decided to check my tickets," Ben says. "I thought I was dreaming."

Ordinarily, players who win such a massive lottery prize take their time to adjust to the situation and allow the fact to sink in. Mega Millions jackpot winners also tend to take professional financial advice before deciding whether the annuity or lump sum option is best for them. But not Ben. He made up his mind on the spot and drove all the way to Atlanta the very same day, only to find that the lottery offices are closed on Sundays and that he would have to wait until the next day to make his claim.

Journalists at a press conference asked Ben how the jackpot win would change his financial situation. "Right now, I got $600 in there," Ben replied. "So it's gonna change it pretty good."

Ben plans to spend part of his money on his family and the family of his girlfriend. He also wants to invest in land and maybe even pay for a church to be built for his nephew, who is in the process of becoming a minister. "I have thought of probably trying to start him a church," Ben said. "And I may just put the money up and build him one."

Although Ben has made lottery history in Georgia, he didn't come close to breaking the US jackpot record, which is a $365 million Powerball prize won by a syndicate of eight.

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