Valid ticket turned in for $162 million Mega Millions jackpot
But not by woman who claimed she lost it
By Joe Milicia, Associated Press, 1/6/2004
CLEVELAND -- A woman turned in the winning $162 million Mega Millions lottery ticket Tuesday, saying she came forward sooner than planned because she was angered by another woman's claim that she bought the ticket and lost it.
Rebecca Jemison, a hospital worker from South Euclid, turned in the ticket for the 11-state jackpot at Ohio Lottery headquarters, officials said. The lottery validated it Tuesday morning as the sole winning ticket for the Dec. 30 drawing.
"I think I checked it about five or six times to make sure to see was it real," Jemison said at a news conference at lottery headquarters.
She said she told her mother even before telling her husband. "Being a mama's girl I wanted to share the news with my mama first," she said.
She also talked to an attorney and an accountant before turning in the ticket.
Jemison took the immediate cash payment option, which is $94 million before taxes. After taxes, the lump sum payment is an estimated $67.2 million. She and her husband said their only definite plan is to relocate.
In the meantime, "I haven't had any sleep so hopefully when everything dies down I can get a, definitely a good night's rest."
She was accompanied by her husband, Sam. They have a 12-year-old daughter.
Earlier, a Cleveland woman, Elecia Battle, 40, had filed a police report saying she lost the ticket last week. Police said her story was credible, but lottery officials said whoever turns in a valid ticket is legally entitled to the winnings.
Jemison said she was not worried about Battle's claim because she knew she had a valid ticket.
"First of all I want to clear up a few things that have come out in the press. One of them is that I've been playing these numbers for about two years," she said.
Ohio Lottery Director Dennis Kennedy said officials were sure that Jemison is the rightful owner of the ticket, saying she provided a receipt from the convenience store marking the time the ticket was sold.
Kennedy said he would let police handle Battle's claim.
Jemison said Battle's story motivated her to turn in the ticket.
"I was angry at first but not worried at all," Jemison said. "I knew what I possessed."
Battle's lawyer, Sheldon Starke, did not immediately return a call seeking comment on the lottery's announcement. He had said Battle intended to make a case that the winning ticket was lost property.
Battle told police that the numbers -- 12, 18, 21, 32 and 46 and Mega Ball 49 -- represented family birthdays and ages.
Jemison said she picked the numbers at random and only played them for large jackpots.
South Euclid police Lt. Kevin Nietert said he had not been able to reach Battle and her attorney by phone.
He said that if it was later determined there was a lack of truthfulness, police could consider criminal charges. The charge could be filing a false police report, a misdemeanor punishable by 30 days to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine, he said.
The biggest single-ticket winner in the world is Jack Whittaker Jr. of West Virginia. He won a $314.9 million jackpot in Powerball in December 2002.
Elecia Battle holds open her purse Monday. Battle told police she dropped the purse and lost the winning $162-million Mega Millions ticket as she left the Quick Shop Food Mart in South Euclid, Ohio. The lottery said last week that the winning ticket was sold at the store.
(AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
January 5, 2004