Richard Wahl is the New Jersey winner of the $533 million Mega Millions jackpot that was drawn on March 30, 2018. Unlike the big Powerball winner, who recently chose to stay anonymous, this winner came forward in New Jersey. But he didn’t have a choice, because winners can’t stay anonymous in New Jersey. Here’s everything you need to know about the jackpot winner and the big multimillion-dollar jackpot. This is a developing story and we’ll add more about the winner as details are available.
1. Richard Wahl Said They Plan To Use the Money To Help Others
Richard Wahl, 47, is from Vernon, New Jersey, and is the Mega Millions jackpot winner. He just moved to the city at the end of July for a job opportunity. He said he never plays Mega Millions — only twice in his life.
“On Thursday I had $20 left in my pocket and decided to buy some tickets and a Diet Coke,” he said. “I’m checking the numbers at 8:00 (that night). I didn’t know they draw at 11:00. … Around midnight I said (to my wife), ‘If I win you’re going to hear a huge scream, we’re leaving on vacation and we’re going to retire.'”
He said he was excited just about winning $4 when he thought that was all he had won. Then he realized more and more numbers were matching and at first thought he won a million dollars, and that was life-changing by itself. But then he looked and realized he matched all the numbers.
“It was truly amazing,” he said with tears in his eyes. “I told my wife… Baby, we get to go on vacation. She said, ‘What are you talking about? Don’t be an idiot.'”
He told her was serious and they looked at the numbers about 15 times. At first he thought maybe he didn’t win because he didn’t play the Megaplier, because he didn’t know the rules. But it slowly dawned on them that yes, they were the winners.
The winner waited two weeks to come forward after winning the jackpot, NorthJersey.com reported. This is typically a pretty good idea rather than coming forward immediately, as it gives the winner time to get all their affairs in order before announcing their name to the world. The average time for winners to claim their jackpots is about 12 days.
2. He Said He Believes Winning Is God’s Plan & He’s Going to Honor That by Doing Good Things With the Jackpot
He said that he and his family were in shock for several days, and when they realized they were the only winners, it was hard to fathom.
“For us we believe God has a plan, so for us the plan is to do a lot of good things with it,” he said. “It’s not only life-changing money for me, but I want it to be life-changing money for others. Family, friends, and people in need. We’re going to try to do some good things with that.”
He and his family are Catholic, he said, and don’t currently have a church home because they just moved to the area, but they plan to help charities. He didn’t pick the numbers; they were chosen through Easy Pick.
“That’s why we believe this is God’s plan,” he said. “He chose the numbers for us, He’s the one who made the decision… We ultimately believe God made the decision … for us to be able to do this… I’d say (we’re) lucky, but my wife and I don’t believe in luck.”
He said they didn’t leave the house all weekend after winning because he didn’t feel comfortable leaving the ticket in the house or taking the ticket with him.
“A lot of you guys have seen me already. The day they were handing out the $30,000 check (at the gas station), I actually stopped for gas,” he said during the press conference. “I didn’t see the news cameras. I gave the guy who pumped my gas the last of my money.”
He went in to use the ATM and saw all the cameras and got nervous and left, because he wasn’t ready to come forward publicly yet.
He said the money will help family and friends who are struggling and living check by check. He said he’s fortunate that he hasn’t had to live like that thanks to a good job, but now he can help family members who are struggling, including his mother.
“We’re humbled by the fact of everything that’s happened. We’re not the type to go out and spend all this money and party it up… We’re going to help out as much as we can.”
3. He’s a Production Manager for a Food Services Company & Plans to Retire So He Can Spend More Time with His Family
Wahl said he won’t be staying at his job, but will help them during the transition. He works a lot of hours in Hillside as a production manager at AAK Food Service. Now he gets to spend more time with his family.
“I was helping build a company there, and it’s more important to me to make sure they’re taken care of. I don’t want to leave them shorthanded,” he said.
When asked what he wanted to buy, his plans were modes.t “I wanted to rebuild a 1963 Corvette. Whether I get a chance to do it or not, I don’t know. But that’s been my dream,” he said.
He said his wife is from Mexico and they want to help family and people they’ve known for a long time, both in the United States and abroad.
“My wife’s more humble like I am… But she’s my wife, my queen,” he said, tearing up. “I’ll make sure she’s taken care of.”
Only one person had the winning ticket for this jackpot. About half of the winnings will go to federal and state taxes, leaving the winner with $175 million if they take the cash option. Wahl said they are taking the cash option.
4. The Winning Ticket Was Sold at a Lukoil Mini-Mart
The winning ticket was sold at a Lukoil mini-mart in Riverdale on March 30, on Route 23. The mini-mart’s owner, Ameer Krass, said that after reviewing surveillance footage, he determined that the ticket was purchased by one of the store’s regulars. But Wahl said in the press conference that he’s not actually a regular and has only been in the store four or five times.
Wahl said they didn’t sleep too much when they first found out. “I don’t think it’s still settled in with us,” he said. “Thinking about how much money it is. It’s life-changing.”
Krass kept the winner’s identity a secret and encouraged others to do the same. Krass was given a $30,000 check for selling the ticket, and plans to give bonuses to his 10 employees and donate some of the money to his church, NorthJersey.com reported. Riverdale is about 30 miles west of New York City.
5. Wahl Would Have Preferred to Stay Anonymous, But New Jersey Winners Must Reveal Their Identity
Wahl said his family’s safety was most important, and that’s why his wife wasn’t with him at the press conference. If he had the choice, he would have stayed anonymous.
In New Jersey, players have a year to claim their prize from the date of the drawing. New Jersey rules do state that anyone claiming a winning ticket also consents to use his or her name and image to publicize the award. The winner may also be required to appear at a news conference or other promotional event, or to have their image used on social media without any additional consent. “A Prize claim may be denied if the Claimant refuses to cooperate with the publicity requirements…”
But there’s always a chance this might change in the future, thanks to a recent Powerball jackpot winner in New Hampshire. Although New Hampshire rules allow people who win games like Powerball to take up to a one year from the draw date to claim their prize, New Hampshire law also requires the winner’s name, town, and amount won be available for public information. The winner was able to file a lawsuit and stay anonymous while claiming the winnings through an anonymous trust, even though they had originally signed their winning ticket with their name.
Today’s winner is taking away the fourth largest jackpot in Mega Millions history. Since Mega Millions changed the jackpot rules in October 2017, we can expect a better chance that the jackpots will get bigger and bigger and break more records over time. The largest jackpots in history were: #1) $656 million in March 2012; #2.) $648 million in December 2013; #3.) $536 million in July 2016; and #4.) $451 million in January 2018. This means that today’s jackpot winner will now rank as the fourth-highest in history, just shy of surpassing the third-biggest Mega Millions jackpot.
This is also the tenth largest jackpot in U.S. history and the largest jackpot in New Jersey’s history.