Marion County millionaire keeps identity under wraps

A Marion County resident won the grand prize in the Kansas Holiday Millionaire Raffle, but lottery officials wondered if the winner was ever going to show.

Sally Lunsford, director of public affairs at the Kansas Lottery, said she wasn’t even sure if the ticket still existed or whether it ended up in a landfill.

“This was the eighth year for the holiday raffle with the odds being one in 200,000,” Lunsford said, “and the grand prize drawing was Jan. 3.”

In previous years, all of the $1 million winners claimed their prize close to when the drawing was held, but the Marion County resident, she said, waited until Thursday, Feb. 23.

Lunsford said there are 10 different games available for Kansans to win $1 million, but until last month nobody in Marion County had ever won that much money.

Casey’s General Store in Hillsboro was also the location of the winning ticket.

Prior to the winner coming forward, she said lottery officials only say a region.

In the case of the Marion County resident winning, the region was identified as South Central, Lunsford said.

“In the last eight holiday millionaire raffles, three winners were from Wichita,” she said, “and people in Wichita just kept assuming that someone in Wichita had won.”

In addition to the three Wichita residents winning the $1 million raffle, a Topeka, Norwich, Bel Aire and Greeley County resident were the recipients.

The only two people to give their names were in the first and fifth year raffle drawings, according to website information, but all the other people remained anonymous.

Taxes

Lunsford said it’s mandated to take taxes off the top.

“On any prize that’s above $5,000 (taxes are withheld),” she said. “So if the prize is $5,001 and above we take 25 percent in federal and 5 percent in state taxes.”

After taxes, the Marion County resident received a payment of $700,000.

“The state said it up that way so winners didn’t have to worry about saving the money back for taxes,” Lunsford added. “At the end of the year, winners get a W2G, which reports gambling specifically.”

Depending on the size of the prize and the winners financial situation being retired or in a high-paying job, she said, it’s possible they could get money back.

“We never say that for sure, though,” Lunsford said. “If there are further taxes, it would be the work of a person’s accountant.”

Each year, lottery officials try to make the raffle more interesting by having “early bird specials,” she said.

Back next year

Raffle tickets cost $20 each, and in 2016 there were 11 early bird drawings.

“We usually try to start the raffle at the state fair on Sept. 9 and it continues until all 200,000 tickets are sold,” Lunsford said. In the 2016 raffle, the last ticket was sold at 6:05 p.m. Christmas Eve.

“We will be back with the raffle again later this year.”