In trouble with credit card debt and not earning enough as a Madison Square Garden labourer, MegaMillions winner Jimmy Groves didn’t have much to look forward to.

Struggling for most of his life and barely getting by on a daily basis, it was hard to believe he’d escape the world he had been born into. That was until he decided to buy a lottery ticket and scooped a Mega Millions lotto jackpot of $168 million in December 2009.

 

Lottery24 - $168m Mega Millions jackpot won by Jimmy Groves group in Madison Sq

 

Now Jimmy is everyone’s friend

It took Jimmy a while to accept that he’d won the New York MegaMillions lotto jackpot. “I didn’t believe it, so I went home, I looked at the ticket a couple of times, then I went to bed,” Groves said. “I woke up, I looked at the ticket again, then I went to sleep again, hoping that when I woke up it wasn’t going to be a fake ticket. But it was a real ticket.”

That’s not unusual for many big winners. There’s a sense of the world being unreal, that it’s all a dream and soon you are going to wake up. But Jimmy Groves had won, and he’d won real big.

 

It isn’t all good, said the lottery winner

Owing $4,000 on his credit card and subsisting from pay cheque to pay cheque, you might think that Jimmy would be over the moon after having the winning MegaMillions numbers. But his dream fast turned to a nightmare with everyone from friends and acquaintances to people he’d never met before, begging him for money.

Jimmy lived at Grove House, a rundown tenement where the only news stories were ones about violence and other crimes. Jimmy’s stroke of good luck in the MegaMillions Lottery was the biggest thing to happen there, ever. After telling his neighbours that he had won the jackpot, the one-time labourer found himself fielding around 40 calls a day, mainly from desperate people asking him to part with his new found wealth.

 

Long-time Mega Millions Fan

Jimmy, a 49 year old grandfather, had been buying tickets since the New York State Mega Millions lottery started way back in 2002. Strangely enough, he actually changed his strategy when buying this particular ticket and that led to his good fortune.

Normally he would opt for the lump sum payment but this time he elected to receive an annuity. That meant he would receive 26 payments of around $6.5 million which worked out as a net check for $4 million each year, every year, up to 2035.

Of course, like anyone who has come out of a bad luck streak, Jimmy had some immediate plans for his MegaMillions lotto jackpot money. He was going to set up his mother and children financially so they wouldn’t have to worry and he was going to buy a house with a proper backyard.

Beyond that, he had no idea what he was going to do.

The odds for Jimmy of watching the MegaMillions results and finding himself to be a winner were around 1 in 176 million, but he was the only one in New York smiling in the end. He didn’t have a dime in his pockets before the win and not much in the way of a future. He had plans to travel, or so he said at the time, and maybe that’s what he is doing right now. He certainly doesn’t work at Madison Square Garden anymore and he hasn’t been seen at the aptly named Grove House in a long while.

“It’s a gift from God, no doubt,” said Groves who had worked for 18 years at Madison Square Gardens. “I can think of 168,000,000 reasons why this was a good time to retire.”

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