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Lottery fever

Mega Millions jackpot soars to $636 million; local retailers cash in

December 18, 2013
By HANS MADSEN ( , Messenger News

The estimated jackpot for the Mega Millions lottery game reached $636 million Tuesday afternoon, several hours before the evening drawing.

To put that in perspective, if a single winner took the cash payout of $341,200,00, pays 45 percent of it in state and federal income taxes, and then proceeds to spend $1,000 a day, it would take them 514 years and a few months to spend it all.

Todd Klocko, of Fort Dodge, has other plans if he wins.

"I'd pay for both my daughters' college," he said. "Then take a vacation."

Those two things would only use a fraction of the money - he might actually be able to buy them a college instead.

Klocko was among those that were stopping at the Kum & Go store at 115 N. 22nd St. In a 20-minute period, only two customers didn't buy a chance at the Mega Millions, one of whom was a child who stopped in for a pack of gum.

Klocko was hoping lightning might strike twice in the same place: the Powerball ticket that won Fort Dodgers Tim and Kellie Guderian $200.8 million in October 2006 was sold there.

So is the store lucky?

"I think so," he said. "There's a store in Florida that keeps repeating."

If luck is with him, it will also be with his coworkers. The 22 chances he bought were purchased by a pool of 11 people.

Harold Hove, of Stanhope, buys the tickets every week. He purchases them there because it's convenient to his travels rather than lucky.

He got 19 chances Tuesday -10 more than his usual nine.

"I just buy a few more," he said.

His sights aren't on the big prize.

"I could use a million anyway," he said.

The longtime mayor of Stanhope said he would share his winnings with the town he serves.

"I'd give some to my town, family, church and school," he said.

He planned on playing Santa for the town's elderly residents.

"It would be from Santa though, not me," he said.

Aaron McKinney, of Fort Dodge, was picking up his ticket at Dale's Corner Store.

He's not a regular player.

"I usually get the scratch-offs unless the cashier reminds me," he said. "Then I pick up a couple."

If he wins?

"Retire," he said.

Like many people, it's hard for McKinney to visualize just how much money is actually involved.

"You can't grasp what $100 million is," he said. "I deal with large bills all the time but that's just a drop in the bucket."

For Samantha Wood, a clerk at the store who sold McKinney his ticket, experience from previous big jackpots has taught her what to expect.

"I'm going to be so busy," she said, "especially after work."

She said the last time a big prize was on the line, the store had a second person work just for lottery sales.

She's holding five chances herself.

For whoever does win the prize, their first call should probably be to a trusted attorney.

William Thatcher, who practices in Fort Dodge, offered some suggestions.

To begin with, said Thatcher, the winner should take the lump sum payout. That way, the taxes due the federal government and the state can be taken out.

"Make sure it's withheld," he said.

Second, the winner needs to consider future income taxes and estate/inheritance taxes. He recommends working with an investment advisor.

He suggests interviewing several before selecting one.

In addition, the winner needs to consider the issue of passing the estate on to children and family and setting up a giving program.

He strongly suggest immediately investing all of the money and living on the investment income, resisting the temptation to go on a million dollar spending spree or two.

"I would advice people not to do that," he said. "Spend a million here, a million there, pretty soon it's gone."

One thing is certain: It will change their life.

"They have to look at it as a great responsibility," he said. "Not just an opportunity to throw thousand-dollar bills off a balcony."

He also suggests not "helping" the long-lost relatives, friends and kindergarten classmates that are sure to appear at the winner's doorstep.

It's probably a mixed blessing for the winner.

"It's not really the great thing that everybody thinks it is." he said. "You still have to handle day-to-day living."



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