Against the odds

Associated Press
Mega Millions lottery co-winner Ed Nabors is interviewed during a Wednesday news conference at the Georgia Lottery office. Mr. Nabors will be taking home more than $80 million after taxes.

DALTON, Ga. - A truck driver from north Georgia has claimed half of the record $390 million Mega Millions jackpot, the richest lottery prize in U.S. history.


Ed Nabors, 52, of Rocky Face, Ga., about 90 miles north of Atlanta, was the first person to step forward and claim part of the jackpot from Tuesday night's drawing.

"I'm still numb," he said in a deep Southern drawl. He said he didn't learn that he had won until 9 a.m. Wednesday - about 10 hours after the numbers were announced - when his co-workers told them that someone bought the winning ticket in Dalton.

Because he took the cash option, he will be taking home $116.5 million before taxes, more than $80 million after taxes.

Mr. Nabors bought his ticket Tuesday morning at a convenience store near a carpet mill run by his employer, Mohawk Industries. The other winning ticket was sold at a liquor store in New Jersey, and that winner didn't immediately come forward.

"I'm going to do a lot of fishing," Mr. Nabors said when asked what he planned to do with the money. He also said he plans to buy a house for his daughter, who has wanted to move out of her mobile home for a long time.

When asked whether he'll keep working, he said: "Well, at least for a couple more days."

Mr. Nabors' mother, Doris, said her whole family was in shock.

"We just can't believe it. ... He was shaking so hard they sent him home from work," she said from the door of the rural home she shares with her son. At the house, an American flag was flying above a patch of daffodils, and a small camper and fishing boat were parked outside.

Neighbor Richard Shanken described Mr. Nabors as a quiet man who stays to himself but doesn't make it a secret that he likes to camp and fish.

Within hours after it was announced early Wednesday that the ticket was sold at the Favorite Market gas station in Dalton, the store's parking lot was packed with news crews seeking interviews with store employees.

"I'm sure it's going to be somebody we know," said assistant manager Rachel Gentry, explaining that about 90 percent of the store's customers are regulars. She said that though the employees don't know every regular's name, they do know their faces. Mr. Nabors said he was a regular of the store, usually getting a cup of coffee there at least once a week.

"That's what I was doing that day," he said.

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 employees of the carpet mills in Dalton, the self-proclaimed "Carpet Capital of the World."

Lottery officials said the store will get $25,000 for selling a winning ticket.