January 25, 2013

Childhood friends split $250,000 lottery win

By Christopher Smith

— Like most people, Michael Jinright of Dalton has bills. Unlike most people, he also has “a lot of debt” from a real estate development project that “didn’t go so well.”

But Jinright, a 49-year old accountant, says the bills and debt will be easier to pay off now after a win playing the Georgia Lottery.

The ticket Jinright purchased at the Kangaroo Express gas station on Carbondale Road won $250,000 during the Mega Millions drawing on Jan. 18 for matching the first five winning numbers. Jinright and three friends had promised each other to split the winnings if any of them ever won the lottery.

Jinright said Robert Goodroe, Christie Mitchell and Bucky Cope, childhood “golf buddies” from Dalton High School who worked with him on the real estate project, agreed to let him keep $100,000. The three friends, who asked Jinright to speak on their behalf, will split the rest of the winnings.

“We started playing the lotto about two years ago,” Jinright said of his friends. “It was August of 2010. The Mega Millions lotto was really big ($92.4 million according to the Georgia Lottery website) and so we played. We didn’t win, but we decided to make a pact to keep playing. If one of us won, we promised to share the money together. That way not just one of us would win, but all of us. And we did.”

The odds of winning the $250,000 prize were 1 in 3,904,701, according to the Georgia Lottery website. Thirty-one percent of the prize, or $77,500, was withheld for state and federal taxes, which means Jinright and his friends received $172,500.

“I’m still in disbelief,” Jinright said. “My friends are still ecstatic and in disbelief. Things were getting bad financially for us all with our real estate project going the way it was. Now things are good. Well, better anyways. This is really going to help take care of some debt ... God is good. I give all the credit to God. He takes care of us.”

The winning numbers — 8, 18, 25, 42, 49 — had no personal significance for the friends.

“It was just a quick pick that day,” Jinright said with a laugh. “I checked the results on my cellphone. I check every morning ... The (gas station) clerk started screaming, and I did too. It’s going to be a good year. It’ll be great.”