Mega Millions: Dad Of 5 Quits Job Of 35 Years, Claims $180 Million Jackpot In California

Jonathan Vankin - Author

Sep. 3 2014, Updated 6:09 p.m. ET

The 9th Mega Millions winner of 2014 claimed his jackpot cash on Wednesday, less than two weeks after hitting a $180 million jackpot. Rick Knudsen, a 53-year-old dad of five from Calimesa, California, showed up at the San Bernardino lottery office along with his wife Lorie, 54, where they took the winnings in a single payment of $107 million before taxes.

Knudsen won the Mega Millions jackpot in the August 22 drawing. On August 23, he quit the job he’d held at a San Bernardino roofing supply company for 35 years.

The new retiree told a press conference Wednesday that he only buys lottery tickets when he feels lucky, and on August 21 the day before the Mega Millions drawing, he experienced a series of good omens.

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“I went to a store— it was $6. I went to a restaurant — it was $24. Everything I bought for two days – seven different times – everything came back no change, so I felt lucky,” Knudsen says.

As a result, he spent $5 on five Quick Pick Mega Millions numbers. One of those six-number combinations proved to be the only one out of more than 36 million Mega Millions tickets sold for that drawing to match all six numbers.

He checked the ticket at 8:30 the following morning after he got a call from his sister asking if he bought a ticket, because she’d heard that someone in the tiny town of Calimesa was the big jackpot winner.

“I said, ‘Yes,'” Knudsen said. “I looked it up, saw the numbers, I scanned it with my eyes three times. I got this. I told my wife, ‘You need to check this out.'”

After Uncle Sam took his cut, the Knudsens drove home with a bank account more than $80 million fatter than it was when they woke up Wednesday morning.

They have some ideas of what how they plan to spend their newfound wealth — a new house, new cars. But more importantly, they plan to help their grandchildren and children, as well as Rick Knudsen’s father-in-law who lives with the couple.

The Knudsens have a 33-year-old son who has already undergone a series of heart surgeries. Their Mega Millions winnings will help with his health care needs.

There was no winner in Tuesday’s Mega Millions drawing, however, though three tickets matched the first five numbers for a $1 million second-prize. If you bought a ticket, here are the winning numbers drawn September 2 at 10:59 pm in Atlanta, Georgia:

185469 72Mega Ball1

The jackpot for Friday’s drawing now stands at $33 million.


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