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$270 MILLION! Portal family wins Mega Millions

Winning ticket bought at Clyde's #70 in Portal

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Posted: February 23, 2008 3:39 p.m.
Updated: March 9, 2008 5:00 a.m.
$270 MILLION! Portal family wins Mega Millions

People stand outside a convenience store in Portal Saturday. The winning ticket from Friday night's drawing was bought at Clyde's 70 on Highway 80 in Portal


            Friday was a big night for Portal.

            First, the Portal High School boys basketball team advanced to the Sweet Sixteen of the Class A state playoffs.

            Then, as the lottery commissioner read off the lottery numbers, one lucky ticket bought in Portal had won $270 million in the multi-state Mega Millions lottery game.

            It was learned Saturday Bobby and Tonya Harris of Portal were the owners of the winning ticket from Clyde's #70 on Highway 80 in northwest Bulloch County town. Tandi Reddick, a spokesperson with the Georgia Lottery, said she could not confirm a winner until the ticket is verified, which can't be done until the Lottery offices in Atlanta open Monday morning at the earliest.

            Bobby Harris said the winning numbers were based upon his grandchildren's five birthdays. Family friends said the Harris' went to Augusta Saturday afternoon to stay and celebrate with family before heading to Atlanta to claim the winnings.

            "I called my boss this morning and told him I was quitting," Harris said. "He understood."

            Harris told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he and his wife would soon move out of their mobile home, but he wasn't sure they'd move out of town.

            Harris said he plans to take the winnings in a lump sum when he drives to Georgia Lottery Headquarters to cash in the winning ticket Monday. If the couple opt for a lump-sum payout, they'll get a check for $164 million. If they take the annuity option, they'll get $10.3 million annually for 26 years.

            A Clyde's customer was overheard saying, "Wow! I hope she's my friend."

            Christa Hodges, a Clyde's employee working Saturday afternoon, said the winning ticket was purchased by Tonya Harris sometime Friday evening. Hodges said Harris lives in Portal and is a regular customer.

            "She's a really nice lady," Christa Hodges said. "She's been in here three times already today, but she's been real calm. I don't think it's hit her yet."

            "She's a regular," said fellow employee Breanna McCoy.

            Another employee Matthew Newsome rung up the purchase of the winning ticket. He said it "feels pretty good" to sell the big winner. According to Reddick, ., Clyde's will receive a $25,000 "retailer incentive bonus" for selling the winning ticket.

            Eddie Adams owns Da' Pig Shack across the street from Clyde's. He said that corner of town was buzzing Saturday morning as the news spread through the small community.         

            "The parking lot (of Clyde's) was full and everybody was excited," said Adams. "(Harris) was outside giving everybody a 'thumbs up.'"

            Adams said news about the lottery winner traveled fast.

            "I had people from Florida calling me to see if I was the one who won," said Adams.

            Larry Lanier, owner of the IGA grocery store on the corner opposite Clyde's, said the Harris' are regular customers of his store.

            "I saw her Friday night. She cashed her check, went across the street and played her grandkids' birthdays," said Lanier. "She's a rich woman now in South Georgia. She's got more friends and kinfolk than she's ever had."

            Lanier recommended to Harris that she get a good banker and a good attorney.

            John Campbell, a manager at Clyde's, said he expects lottery sales will likely double for the next few weeks.

            "They'll be coming to the terminal hoping some of the good luck will rub off," said Campbell.

            "It's a good day in Portal for everybody," said Campbell.

            The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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