After six years of playing his lucky numbers, Ronald Willis finally hit the jackpot. But this time, he strayed from his usual Rialto spot to purchase a ticket in Riverside. The 39-year-old won $120 million; after taxes he’ll get $70 million. Craig Fiegener reports for the NBC4 News on Sept. 14, 2012.
After six years of playing his lucky numbers, Ronald Willis finally hit the jackpot. But this time, he strayed from his usual spots in Rialto to purchase a ticket in Riverside.
Willis' fiancée says she was the first to figure out he’d won the $120 million Mega Millions jackpot. When asked if he knew he had the winning numbers, Willis was convinced he’d bought his ticket in Rialto, not Riverside.
"Then he went home and realized that he did and he checked the numbers and he was like, 'You’re not gonna believe this,'" said Yolanda Mangum.
Willis, 39, grew up in Southern California and lives in Rialto. He said he's not much of a "yeller or jump-around type of guy," so his reaction to the massive win was more contemplative.
"I was calm. Sat down and just thought about it. I just thinking about it, you know, just thinking about it. I was like, 'Wow, this is really happening,'" he said.
The jackpot ticket was sold at the 7-Eleven at 3740 Iowa Avenue Suite 11 in Riverside, but Willis doesn’t ever go to that retailer to buy his tickets – this was the first time.
He was picking up his paycheck when he decided to stop in, Willis told the California Lottery. The retailer will receive a bonus $600,000 for selling the winning ticket.
What didn’t change in Willis’ lotto purchase were the lucky numbers he’s played for years. At a news conference on Friday, Willis explained his choices:
"The five is my birthday month, the 11 is my birthday, and 20 is Yolanda’s birthday. And 33 and 36 are my jerseys from high school," he said.
Willis won the $120 million jackpot. After taxes, he’ll receive $70 million. He has 60 days to decide whether to take a lump sum or yearly payments of $4.6 million for 26 years.
With four children – ranging in age from toddler to teenager – Willis said the win ensures they can all get a higher education.