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Ga. winner to get half of record $390 million jackpot

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DALTON, Ga. — The winner of half of the record $390 million jackpot has stepped forward, but Georgia lottery officials refused to immediately name the lucky person.
    Tandi Reddick, a Georgia Lottery spokeswoman, said the winner had been identified and would be presented with a ceremonial check at a news conference Wednesday evening.
    The winning ticket was sold at a Dalton convenience store that’s surrounded by carpet mills in the self-proclaimed ‘‘Carpet Capital of the World.’’
    Within hours after the announcement early Wednesday that the ticket had been sold at the Favorite Market gas station, the store’s parking lot was packed with news camera crews seeking interviews with store employees.
    ‘‘I’m sure it’s going to be somebody we know,’’ said assistant manager Rachel Gentry, adding that about 90 percent of the store’s customers are regulars. She said that while the store’s employees don’t know every regular’s name, they do know their faces.
    ‘‘We hope it’s one of our customers who come in regular,’’ Gentry said.
    Many of the mill employees are immigrants from Mexico, and Gentry said she wouldn’t be surprised if the winner was one of them. ‘‘We get a lot of Mexicans in here,’’ she said.
    Georgia Lottery Corp. spokesman J.B. Landroche said someone who is not a U.S. citizen can claim the prize. The only requirement is that the winner must be at least 18 years old and proper proof of identification, Landroche said. However, the tax implications might be quite different for someone who isn’t a U.S. citizen.
    As an 18-wheeler rolled past the store toward one of the mills, the driver shouted out the window, ‘‘Has the guy come in yet? I heard he drives a truck for Mohawk,’’ referring to Mohawk Industries, which operates one of the nearby mills.
    Sal Perillo, a spokesman for Mohawk Industries, said in a phone interview, ‘‘We heard the same thing you did, that it was one of our drivers. I haven’t got firsthand knowledge of it, but I am told it was.’’
    He declined to give the driver’s name.
    Connie Sexton, who has managed Favorite Market for 15 years, said it sold about 100 Mega Millions tickets on Tuesday alone, and most of its tickets are sold to carpet mill employees.
    Lottery officials said the store will get $25,000 for selling a winning ticket.
    A winning ticket also was purchased in New Jersey, which means the person who holds that ticket will get the other half of the jackpot. No other winning tickets were purchased in any of the lottery’s 10 other states, including California, where the announcement of results was delayed because of computer problems.
    ‘‘The volume of ticket sales was so high. As a result it’s taking us more time to process than is typical,’’ California Lottery spokesman Rob McAndrews said.
    The winning numbers — 16-22-29-39-42, and the Mega Ball 20 — were announced Tuesday night in New York’s Times Square, where the 12 participating Mega Millions states agreed to move the drawing after the jackpot hit $355 million Monday. The Mega Millions drawing’s usual home is Atlanta.
    The odds of winning: about 1 in 176 million.
    The largest previous multistate lottery jackpot was $365 million in 2006, when eight workers at a Nebraska meat processing plant hit the Powerball lotto. The Big Game lotto, the forerunner of Mega Millions, paid out a $363 million jackpot in 2000.
    Mega Millions tickets are sold in California, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Texas, Virginia and Washington state.
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