Big Lottery Winner Comes Forward

Friday, May 12th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A swimming-pool installer who put down a $100 bill for a hot dog and 98 Big Game lottery tickets stepped forward with his wife and three children Friday to claim half of the record-breaking $363 million jackpot.

``I guess I'd like to start a new job playing golf,'' said Larry Ross, a 47-year-old occasional lottery player accustomed to working 80 to 100 hours a week in the summer. ``We haven't had a summer vacation in 13 years.''

Ross and his wife, Nancy, will take their share of the bounty in a lump-sum payment of about $90 million before taxes. They could have elected to take the full $181.5 million in 26 annual installments.

The other winning Big Game ticket was sold in Lake Zurich, Ill., 30 miles northwest of Chicago. That winner has not yet come forward.

The $363 million jackpot was the richest in U.S. history, but the biggest individual payout is still the $197 million awarded last year to a Massachusetts woman.

Ross bought his ticket to Tuesday's drawing at Mr. K's Party Shoppe near Utica, 20 miles north of Detroit. He had stopped in to buy a hot dog, and all he had was a $100 bill. At his wife's urging, ``I asked the guy to give me change in lotto tickets,'' he said.

Ross said he wrote down the winning numbers incorrectly Tuesday night on the way home and didn't realize one of his computer-selected tickets was a winner until he saw it on television Wednesday morning.

``Jesus, they match!'' he told his wife. Then, he said, ``I invented a new dance — I started doing the lottery dance.''

Now, he is looking to retire and buy a boat, a house and maybe that the purple Jaguar that his wife has always wanted. He said he plans to give some of the money to charity.

``We're not going to do anything rash. We're going to invest wisely,'' he said.

The Rosses have been married 25 years. Their children are: Ian, 21, Eric, 25, Shannon, 12.

Ross paused at the end of his news conference to wipe away tears, but otherwise appeared as ``remarkably quite calm'' as lottery officials said he was when he first called them Wednesday.

Since then, however, ``I haven't slept in three days. It's a great diet program: win the lotto and lose weight. I haven't eaten in three days,'' he said.

He said the family plans to move from their four-bedroom ranch in Shelby Township to a more secure neighborhood somewhere in Michigan.

``You have the ecstasy of winning and then you start realizing the agony of what might happen,'' he said. ``You've got security problems now. You think about your family, who's at risk. We're not in a secure neighborhood. We don't have security like rich people have.''

The states that participate in the Big Game are Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey and Virginia.


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