U.P. woman takes home jackpot
LANSING – Judy Juntunen, of Atlantic Mine, recently claimed her $19 million Mega Millions jackpot.
Juntunen, the sole winner of the Feb. 5 Mega Millions jackpot, traveled nearly 500 miles in 10 hours to Lansing from her home town, currently boasting 210 inches of snow on the ground, to turn in the ticket and claim her prize.
“I always hoped I would win, but I never thought I would win a prize like this,” she said.
Juntunen, who was born and raised in the U.P., said her first purchase would be a new car.
“One that will go through the snow better than what I have now,” she added.
Juntunen, Michigan’s 16th multi-state jackpot winner, elected to take the $13.9 million cash value of the annuitized jackpot and after taxes, netted $9.8 million. Her ticket was a self-pick, but she claimed the numbers had no special significance to her.
Juntunen first learned of her win when her granddaughter called after hearing that the winning ticket had been sold in neighboring Houghton.
“I didn’t believe it at first,” Juntunen said.
The winner’s son, who accompanied her to Lansing, said his mom called him with the good news. “My mind was pretty well shot for the rest of the day,” he said. “I didn’t know whether to believe her or not.”
Juntunen’s daughter, who also traveled to Lansing, echoed the sentiment. “I thought she was joking.”
Festival Foods, a general grocery/hardware store where Juntunen regularly shops, will receive a $50,000 bonus check to mark the sale.
Michigan has had 16 multistate winners, including 12 Mega Millions winners and two Powerball winners. The state’s last big winner – and its largest ever – was Donald Lawson, who snagged the $337 million Powerball jackpot on Aug. 15.
Juntunen joins fellow Mega Millions winner Steve Mays of Gladstone, who won $140 million in October of 2010, as the U.P.’s top prize winners.
Mega Millions tickets are available in 42 states plus the District of Columbia and the US Virgin Islands. In the Feb. 5 drawing, an additional 19,000 Michigan players won prizes.