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Posted at 02:20 PM ET, 05/20/2011

Lottery winners’ dilemma: Wait or cash in?

Admit it — you’ve daydreamed about what you’d do if you won a million bucks in the lottery. Or maybe not even a million: $850,000 would do just fine.

Kofi Nyanor of Alexandria receives his $1 million lottery check Thursday from Virginia Lottery Executive Director Paul Otto at the store where he bought the ticket: Super Dollar Saver, 366 South Pickett St. in Alexandria. (Virginia Lottery)
When Kofi Nyanor of Alexandria learned Jan. 1 that he had become a millionaire, “I went about my business,” he told the Virginia Lottery. “I didn’t tell anyone.”

He put the ticket in a safe place, and started making plans. Only 330,000 tickets were sold in that lottery, and two other winners claimed their million dollars before Nyanor got around to it May 19.

“He was getting his financial affairs in order and really was doing the things we advise winners of big prizes to do,” said John Hagerty of the lottery office.

Nyanor described himself as a once-in-a-while lottery player, and said he will invest his winnings and donate part of it to charity.

Dan Kumbalasiri of Silver Spring didn’t wait nearly so long. He was on a diaper run for his 6-month-old daughter and picked up some Maryland Lottery scratch-off tickets, and a Multi-Match ticket. The scratch-offs won him $150, plenty to cover the diaper purchase. It wasn’t until the next day that he checked the other ticket.

Dan Kumbalasiri and his wife, Julie, display their check from the Maryland Lottery this week. He bought the ticket for it at a Giant supermarket at 13490 New Hampshire Ave. in Silver Spring. (Maryland Lottery)
He was at work, as an accountant for the Marriott hotel chain, when he checked the numbers online, then had a co-worker double-check for him. As an accountant, he should appreciate the odds of winning the top prize in that lottery: It was a 1-in-6 million chance.

He told Maryland lottery officials that after a family vacation, he will thoroughly analyze the family’s budget before deciding what to do with the money.

By  |  02:20 PM ET, 05/20/2011

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