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Stone Mountain woman wins half of $648 million jackpot

12/20/2013, 6:04 a.m. | Updated on 12/20/2013, 6:02 a.m.
Ira Curry of Stone Mountain selected the cash option and will take home about $120 million.

Christmas came early for Stone Mountain resident Ira Curry when her Mega Millions lottery ticket won half of the $648 million jackpot on Dec. 17.

Curry purchased one of two winning tickets with numbers 8-14-17-20-39 and Mega Ball number 7. The other winning ticket was purchased in San Jose, Calif. The winner had not come forward at press time.

Curry selected the cash option, which amounts to $173,819,742.50 before taxes. After a 6 percent Georgia state income tax and 25 percent federal income tax, Curry is taking home about $120 million.

Curry, who told lottery officials that seven is her family’s lucky number, claimed her prize Wednesday morning. She did not attend a Georgia Lottery press conference on Dec. 18 and has asked for privacy.

Debbie Alford, Georgia Lottery CEO, said Curry hand-picked her numbers from family birthdays. She bought the ticket at Gateway Newsstand in Buckhead.

Curry, 56, is an insurance company underwriter. She is married to Talmer Curry and has at least one daughter.

The New York Daily News reports that she grew up in a Bronx, N.Y., public housing apartment where her two sisters, Jalunda Baker Price and Brenda Baker, still live. Her sisters said they were raised by a single mother.

Alford said Curry is in a state of disbelief. She called her good fortune “unreal.”

“‘It’s like I’m still dreaming,’” she quoted her as saying.

After final game sales Tuesday, the Mega Millions jackpot increased from an advertised $636 million to $648 million. It is the second-largest lottery prize in U.S. history.

Curry was in her car on Wednesday morning when she heard a radio announcer talking about the winning numbers. When she heard the Buckhead location where she bought her ticket and number 7 Mega Ball number, she called her daughter to check her ticket.

“‘I was calm because it was unbelievable,’” she told Alford.

Curry told lottery officials that she hasn’t had a chance to think about future plans.

Other Georgia Lottery players also won more than $2.2 million in Tuesday’s Mega Millions drawing.

Two $1 million tickets were sold in Columbus and Winder, and three $20,000 tickets were sold in Cave Spring, Decatur and Marietta. There were also 26 winners of $5,000 prizes. Eighteen tickets won $2,000, and there were more than 929,000 winners at other prize levels.

Georgia students were also big winners in Tuesday’s drawing. The Mega Millions rollovers, which began Oct. 4, yielded about $17.3 million for the Georgia Lottery-funded HOPE scholarship and pre-k programs – about 6,075 HOPE awards and 1,651 pre-k spots.