STONE MOUNTAIN—The camera crews and reporters are gone. The house where Ira Curry lives in the Water’s Edge subdivision has been locked tight. Neighbors say there’s been no sign of Curry or her family since she became a mega millionaire in December. Life is normal again.
Curry, 56, won half of the second-largest Mega Millions jackpot in U.S. history, Georgia Lottery President Debbie Alford said on Dec. 18. Curry took the cash option, which after taxes, will be about $120 million.
It’s enough dough for some neighbors to have a little hope that Curry will be “a good neighbor,” as the State Farm insurance slogan goes.
“We would wave and speak shortly, but of course I wish I knew her a little better. I bet that lady is somewhere across the globe right now,” said Michelle Oxley, who has lived in Curry’s neighborhood for five years. “I bet she’s not coming back. I wouldn’t. I would just have somebody pick up my personal items.”
Curry told lottery officials she picked the winning numbers using a mix of family birthdays and her family’s lucky number, 7. The winning numbers were 8, 14, 17, 20 and 39, with a Mega ball of 7.
Curry found out from her daughter that she had won after calling to find out what the winning numbers were.
Jonathan Jones, who lives in Water’s Edge, says he’s happy somebody from Georgia won.
“It’s good to see a winner from Stone Mountain. You always see people win the big jackpot in other states. This close to home though? Wow, I’m so happy for her,” said Jones, who was home for the holidays from college. “I’m sure she will do good things with all that money.”
Two tickets matched the winning numbers in the Dec. 17 $648 million jackpot. Curry’s half of the cash option comes to $173,819,742.50, before federal and state taxes, officials said. Officials say the odds of hitting the jackpot are 1 in 259 million.
Lottery officials say Curry bought the ticket at the end of the day on Dec. 13 and it was a last-minute decision.
Amber Epps, whose parents live in Water’s Edge, said she doesn’t expect to see Curry anytime soon.
“I wish my mom, Angela, knew her. That would have been so cool,” said Epps, whose family has lived in the neighborhood for more than 20 years. “That lady is probably hiding somewhere in Jamaica with her feet kicked up. Man, I wish I could help her spend just some of that money.”
Curry is not completely tucked in a shell. She has been communicating with well-wishers via Facebook. On Dec. 21, she posted a note:
“Thank you for the messages and friend requests. I’ve just been so busy, I will read all messages and consider each and every request. Blessed,” wrote Curry. “When I found out, I was in a state of disbelief. I still didn’t believe it when my daughter told me.”
One of Curry’s Facebook friends and neighbor, Tanya Crews, says she hopes Curry is reading this story.
“If you see this, don’t forget about the little people,” Crew said laughing. “I’m glad things have got back to normal and the hype is over. I don’t want to see any more newspapers or news channels coming in here, unless Ira is with them.”
Curry bought her winning ticket in Atlanta at a Gateway Newstand in the lobby of an office building near Atlanta’s Buckhead community. The other ticket was sold in San Jose, California, lottery officials said.
This jackpot was so large in part because Mega Millions became tougher to win. The prize rises with each miss, and no one had won it since organizers increased the pool of numbers to choose from—making astronomical odds even longer—in October.
The California winning ticket was sold at Jenny’s Gift Shop in a San Jose strip mall, lottery officials said.