Sometimes breaking routines is a bad idea.
Merritt Island resident Mike Alexander usually buys lottery tickets from the Sunoco gas station across the street from his home, but on Tuesday, he forgot.
That was bad timing. One of the two winning tickets for Tuesday’s Mega Millions lottery drawing was sold at that store, and the person who purchased the ticket now has claim to half of a $414 million jackpot. The other half will go to a winner in Maryland. Neither Mega Millions winner has gone public.
“Every day I play the lottery, and the one day I don’t play, somebody wins,” said Alexander, a retired surveyor who calls that particular Sunoco his “lucky store.”
“It’s heartbreaking,” Alexander said of not playing lottery on Tuesday.
This jackpot was the sixth largest in American history.
The morning after the Mega Millions lottery drawing, the Merritt Island Sunoco at 600 Courtenay Parkway was surrounded by television crews and cameras, but inside the gas station’s convenience store, it was quieter, since none of the employees were allowed to speak with the news media. The store clerks were chatting with one another about how much they thought the lottery winner should tip them — some said $100, one jokingly said he expected $1 million.
Many customers came into Sunoco on Wednesday to get lottery tickets, and a few said they were coming to the store for the first time, including Melbourne resident Bill Mauro.
“I’ve passed this store every day on the way to work for the past five years,” he said. “I have to try it.”
Mauro said that he hoped he would be as lucky as the person who bought the winning ticket.
“I can’t wait to see who it is,” Mauro said.
To collect their Mega Millions prize, the Brevard County winner must go to the Florida Lottery headquarters in Tallahassee. Cynthia O’Connell, the secretary of the Florida Lottery, said that this is the first time that a winning Mega Millions ticket was sold in Florida.
“We are thrilled to have our first Mega Millions jackpot winner within the first year of Florida joining the game,” she said in a written statement.
The Florida Mega Millions jackpot winner has 180 days to claim their prize.
Jeff Shields, a spokesman for Sunoco, Inc., said his company is pleased that one of their customers won the jackpot.
“We’re real happy for the customer,” he said. “It’s a great thing for them, and it’s a great thing for the store.”
The Brevard Sunoco shop and the Maryland liquor store that sold a winning Mega Millions ticket will each receive $100,000.
So assuming it’s a single-winner, who after taxes will pocket about $120 million, what should that person do with the winnings?
Dan Moisand, a Suntree-based financial planner and FLORIDA TODAY columnist, said the winner should plan wisely, take measure of the life-altering impact of their lottery windfall, and then gather a group of experts on money management.
“They should assemble a good team comprised of at least a tax and estate attorney, a CPA, and an investment adviser,” Moisand said. “All should act strictly in a fiduciary capacity to them at all times. This team can help the winner formulate appropriate goals, carve off funds to have some fun and set up and maintain a plan to keep them secure.”