Shenandoah might make you think of cowboys like James Stewart and wide open country, but to resident Steve Williams it meant a whole lot more on October 16th, 2009, when he won the Mega Millions lottery jackpot.
It was a life changing event and a sum of money that would make anyone jump up and down with joy.
So why did this unassuming Virginian carpenter from a small town wait so long to claim his $200 million Mega Millions lotto prize?
Steve Williams found out about the win a few days after the Mega Millions draw. He was a regular customer at the Valley’s store in Shenandoah, used to go there to make coffee (he didn’t have to, he just liked to) and found the store’s clerk putting up a banner stating that the lottery winner had bought their ticket there. There was immediately a sense of excitement, more from the clerk than anyone else. Who could it be?
Intrigued, Steve got the clerk to check his ticket and was astounded to find that he had the winning Mega Millions numbers and had netted the jackpot.
Like many lottery buyers, rather than taking the jackpot over the next 25 years, he had opted to take the lump sum option of $125 million. It was a tremendous amount of money but Steve Williams wasn’t going to be overtaken with excitement. Unlike many winners in the same circumstances, he took his time before he actually claimed his Mega Millions lotto prize because he wanted to consult with financial advisors and work on securing his future with the huge windfall.
Steve Williams’ winning Mega Millions numbers were 10, 13, 18, 33 and 51 and the Mega Ball number was 43. The Valley store received a $50,000 retailer bonus for selling the winning ticket.
It might seem the essence of cool to wait 5 months to claim a jackpot winning prize and most of us wouldn’t have the strength of will to do it. But Steve Williams actually took the decision to get his strategy straight before he got the Mega Millions lotto money in his hands. In other words, he didn’t want to mess it up.
Large amounts of money can do strange things to people, especially if they are not used to it. Having a period to wait, getting your heart and head straight, and resisting the urge to spend excessively can save a lot of pain later. Sure, it’s a lot of money. But it’s surprising how quickly money can get spent.
It’s even more astounding when you realise that most of the town’s folk knew there was a winner in their midst shortly after the Mega Millions draw. Everyone though was happy for Steve Williams, his wife Kathy and their daughter who are considered down to earth, hardworking people. At the time, Steve was Virginia’s second largest lottery winner taking home around $88 million after tax for his Mega Millions reward.
Paula Otto, director at the Virginia State Lottery, finally presented Steve with his cheque at James Maddison University in Harrisonburg. Ms Otto said: “We are delighted, not just for Mr. Williams’ incredible prize, but also the millions of dollars the Virginia Lottery raises for K-12 public education in Virginia each year.”