As the Mega Millions jackpot for Tuesday's drawing swelled to $149 million with ticket sales taking another step up as excitement for the increasing, nine-figure prize grows, a Long Island, New York, man who won a more modest jackpot of $20 million almost two months ago finally emerged to claim his cash.
Cameron Finney, a 48-year-old hospital orderly from Mastic, New York, was so nervous about losing the life-changing slip of paper bearing the winning Mega Millions numbers that he put his ticket in a bank safe deposit box "after I slept with it for two days," he said when he showed up at the New York State Lottery's Plainview office to claim the jackpot.
Finney took the Mega Millions jackpot as single cash payment, which was about $11.1 million. After federal and state taxes were withheld, he walked out with $7.4 million.
His wife, Donna — who plans to keep her position as an executive specialist with Cablevision — said that since her husband found out he is a Mega Millions winner "he's been waking up in the middle of the night saying 'I'm not going to change.'"
But Finney does have plans for the cash. The first plan is to save as much of it as he can. The newest Mega Millions millionaire said he had studied the stories of lottery winners who burn through their winnings carelessly and are left right back where they started.
"I kept telling people that's not going to be my story," Finney said. "It's going to last until I'm gone."
But that hasn't stopped him from making some pretty big plans for his Mega Millions payout. He says he will refrain from buying his dream car, a Bentley. But he is going to buy a Dodge Ram. He also plans to move with his wife into a new house.
Finally, he says he plans to become a philanthropist, donating money to, among other charities, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, because he says his "heart breaks" for ill children.
There has been one other Mega Millions winner since Finney bought his ticket on March 25. That was on April 4. Since then, no one has hit the jackpot, and ticket sales increased for the fifth straight drawing Saturday -- to 27,128,363 -- as Mega Millions players continue to take notice of the skyrocketing jackpot.
Two tickets on Saturday matched five numbers -- but not the Mega Ball -- for the Mega Millions second-prize of $1 million, out of 1,885,860 winning tickets overall. Was yours one of them? Check your ticket against these Mega Millions numbers, drawn at 10:59 pm in Atlanta, Georgia.
13 — 14 — 16 — 50 — 56 Mega Ball 11
The single-payment cash value of Tuesday's Mega Millions jackpot is estimated at $86.5 million.
Image: New York State Lottery