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TRENTON — Villas residents Sandra and John Belawsky today claimed their portion of the near-record $330 million jackpot from the MEGA MILLIONS drawing held on Aug, 31. They chose the cash option, to receive $48,615,187 before the 25 percent federal withholding tax.

The Belawskys went to Lottery Headquarters to stake their claim to one of the largest lottery jackpots in North American history.

“Congratulations to the Belawskys, the winners of this incredible jackpot,” said William T. Jourdain, acting executive director of the New Jersey Lottery. “While the Belawskys will undoubtedly receive the most publicity, it is important to note that they are not the only winners today. From this Mega Millions jackpot roll alone, which began on July 10, New Jersey generated an estimated $3.4 million in commissions for our lottery retailers and just under $29 million in support of state programs. Mega Millions is truly a winning experience for all citizens of the Garden State.”

The Belawskys purchased their winning ticket on Aug. 30 at Blitz ' s “Hole in the Wall” Villas Market, 902 Bayshore Avenue, Villas.

The tickets were a natural selection. The winning numbers were: 08, 18, 22, 40 and 44, and the Gold Mega Ball number was 11.

The. Belawskys are lifelong residents of New Jersey, and relocated to Cape May County in 1999.

“We feel very, very lucky,” said John, in a release. He bought the winning ticket.

“It’s amazing what can happen when you stop to pick up a newspaper and a few tickets.”

John is a disabled veteran with over 20 years experience in auto finance and banking; Sandra’s prior career was also in banking. Both have been retired for several years, and have enjoyed the quiet life in Cape May County.

When he found out that he possessed one of the winning tickets in this massive jackpot, Mr. Belawsky’s surprise was overwhelming: “I checked the last number twice, and thought about waking Sandy up to tell her we won. I decided to let her sleep, and that was probably a good idea-neither one of has really had a good night’ s sleep since. It’ s been exciting and memorable-and it’s still hard to believe we won."

Mr. Belawsky explained his delay in stepping forward, " I think it took us both a while just to let the fact that we won sink in. After that, we signed the ticket and put it into a safe place and started thinking about the future. We talked with some financial professionals-with our backgrounds in banking, we’re pretty good with money, but when you’ re talking $48 million ... well it doesn’t hurt to have an expert opinion or two.”

Acting Executive Director Jourdain stated, “John and Sandra did everything right that you could ask of a winner in a big jackpot-they signed their ticket, put it in a safe place, and then sought professional financial help. Those are the steps we love to see our winners take before they come forward.”

“In a lot of ways, we’re still in disbelief, " said John Belawsky,

“I know this means that our golden years can officially be golden, but past that, Sandy and I are still sorting all of this out-we have some ideas about what we want to do with this big win, but haven ' t made any big decisions

yet.”

This prize amount is one-fourth of the second-largest jackpot in the history of Mega Millions, a remarkable $330,000,000.

The largest, single-ticket win in the New Jersey Lottery ' s 36-year history, however, was Harold and Helen Lerner, who were sole winners of a Mega Millions jackpot of $258 million on Sept. 16, 2005.

Mega Millions member states include: New Jersey, California, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Texas, Virginia and Washington.

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