Everyone hopes to get their hands on a lottery jackpot, so it’s no surprise how long the lines have become for the Mega Millions lottery. Friday draws have been growing ever since July, and the jackpot — along with public attention — just keeps growing. Mega Millions, after all, is known to have insanely high jackpot prizes around the world, including the second biggest win of all time. Lottoland notes that the current jackpot prize is a staggering $2.1 billion, which is easily one of the highest prizes Mega Millions has ever reached. Expect the queues to be longer, as each player hopes to become a billionaire.
With this in mind, it’s interesting to note that the San Joaquin Valley has had its fair share of lottery winners over the years. Where are they now and what have they done with their winnings?
A reward for hard work
In 1987, Yvonne Baker of Hanford was fortunate to have bought a lottery ticket that will pay $4.37 million in the next 20 years. Accounting for inflation, this amount is the equivalent of nearly $10 million ($9,749,410, to be exact) in today’s terms. Her family received annual checks of $179,000, which is their share after the IRS takes its 20% cut. Having worked hard all their lives, the Bakers spent the first check on building a farm shop for storing and repairing tractors and other equipment. Their dairy farm, which was then home to some 360 cows, would now be 67 years old.
Sometimes, fortune smiles on special occasions. In 2015, for instance, Bill Deluca got more than what he asked for when he went to Fresno County on Valentine’s Day to buy his wife some flowers. After purchasing the flowers, Deluca simply walked next door to buy lottery tickets and scan his old one. It was only when he went home and had his wife check the numbers on the website that he found out that one of his tickets had won him $3,471,009. Even with these winnings, Deluca still chose to continue to work for the construction company in San Joaquin Valley he’d worked for most of his life.
A lucky clarification
Denice Harvey has had trouble with her eyesight. After looking at one of her tickets from the July 30, 2016 draw, her eyes told her that she had won a dollar. Good thing she got it checked by the store clerk, because as it turned out, Harvey had won $785,000. Funnily enough, Harvey’s ears seemed to betray her as well, because she initially thought she heard just $785.
For Harvey, the winnings came at an opportune time. She was at a low point in her life, having recently lost her car, home, and her husband, who passed away. She intends to use the money to buy a simple little house for her children and grandchildren to come and see her.
Fifth time’s the charm
A more recent lottery winner is Fred Bastardo, another resident from Hanford. If it weren’t for his persistence, Bastardo would not have won. The day of his win was supposedly just like any other at the local market. Bastardo bought his first Scratchers ticket, but he didn’t win anything. So he bought a second, to no avail. Then a third, and fourth. He told the store clerk that his fifth one would be the last for the day.
As fate would have it, the fifth ticket turned out to be worth $750,000. While on his way to the district office to collect his winnings, Bastardo’s girlfriend suddenly requested to a have serious talk. She was worried that her instantly rich boyfriend would break up with her, but Bastardo had actually taken this opportunity to propose. When asked what he’d do with the money, Bastardo simply said he’d invest it and start his own business.
If there is one thing common among all these stories, it’s that fortune arrives when you least expect it. For more interesting stories about the residents of San Joaquin Valley, be sure to read Kings River Life’s latest articles.