Lottery winner elects lump sum

Rathdrum's Holly Lahti to be paid $80.7M after taxes

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Holly Lahti went for the lump sum.

The 29-year-old Rathdrum mother of two, who split $380-million, second-largest lottery jackpot in U.S. history, elected to take the one-time cash option $120 million rather than the annuity with her winnings.

The amount after taxes is nearly $80.7 million. Lahti received the money at the Idaho Lottery in Boise on Friday, 17 days after the Mega Millions draw.

"Holly has collected the check," Idaho Lottery Spokesman David Workman said.

Lahti claimed her ticket on Jan. 11. Both she and her estranged husband, Josh Lahti, who attorneys believe is entitled to some of the money, have not made any public comments about the winnings.

"To my knowledge, she is not doing any interviews with anyone anywhere," Workman said.

Lottery officials and friends of Holly's said she wants privacy until her life affairs are in order.

The Idaho Lottery did not issue a photo of Holly - as it normally does with big winners - out of respect for her privacy, Workman said.

Holly became Idaho Lottery's 27th millionaire.

"We often say in Idaho that every play pays," said Jeff Anderson, Idaho Lottery director. "Whenever someone plays the Idaho Lottery, the entire state wins - our retailers, our players and our beneficiaries the public schools and the state's permanent building fund. Congratulations Idaho."

As required by law, the Idaho Lottery withheld about $30 million in federal income tax and another $9.4 million in Idaho income tax from Lahti's winnings.

If she had chosen the annuity option, she would have received 26 payments over 25 years. Her annual payment would have been $4.9 million after taxes.

It's unclear how much Holly will ultimately end up with because, while separated from Josh, they are still married.

Court records show that Josh, 31, of Rathdrum, and Holly Alford got married in May 2001. There's no record of a divorce.

Josh told the Associated Press after Holly claimed the ticket that the two have been married about a decade but are separated, and they have two daughters, ages 10 and 12.

Records indicate a strained relationship between the two. Josh, a 1997 Lakeland High graduate, was arrested for violating a no-contact order and domestic battery in 2002 and 2003.

Jim McCullar, 68, a retired Boeing worker from Ephrata, Wash., was the first winner to come forward to claim the Mega Millions jackpot. Holly and McCullar split the $380 million prize. The odds of winning were 1 in 176 million.

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