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Forgot I bought a ticket for $326 million jackpot, said the winning retired principal

Posted at 6:58 PM, Jan 13, 2015
and last updated 2015-01-13 19:00:33-05

NEW YORK, NY — An 80-year-old retired elementary school principal from Wurtsboro, New York, is planning to take his wife to Hawaii after he became the sole winner of the largest Mega Millions jackpot ticket claimed in the state’s history, the New York Lottery announced Monday.

Harold Diamond, a 39-year veteran of Monticello School District took the cash option on the $326 million jackpot, which will total $130,676,438 after taxes, according to the New York Lottery statement.

Diamond purchased the life-changing ticket after voting on Election Day in November. As it became clear he and his wife, Carol, would not make it to dinner because of stormy weather, she insisted they stop and eat at the Valero and wait for the weather to clear. “I have to thank her with both barrels, because if it weren’t for her insistence, we would not be here today,” he said in the release.

While eating at the Subway shop within the Valero, Diamond noticed the Mega Millions jackpot flashing on the Lottery terminal and decided to get ten $1 Quick Pick numbers for that evening’s drawings.

Diamond said he forgot about the ticket and remembered only when he heard people talk about it while playing golf, according to the New York Lottery news release.

“I put the ticket in my wallet and forgot about it,” he said. “I went to play golf the next day and the guys in the clubhouse were talking about the jackpot-winning ticket someone bought at a Valero on Route 302, and I thought, wait a minute — I bought a ticket there last night!

As soon as Diamond realized he was holding a lottery ticket from the shop, he rushed home to catch the evening news and saw that six numbers drawn matched the second set of Quick Pick numbers on his ticket, he said.

“When I saw the last number, I yelled up to my wife I think we won a few bucks,” he laughed, at the check awarding ceremony.

Diamond said they proceeded to read the numbers back and forth to each other.

“We were like in a daze, in a dither,” he said.

Diamond’s win marks the 29th time a New Yorker has won the top prize on the multistate megajackpot game, which launched in 2002.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled. They were just a gem of a couple,” said Carolyn Hapeman, spokeswoman for the New York Gaming Commission.