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Mega Millions winners claim $162M prize, say officials

Sonny Zaveri sold the winning Mega Millions lottery

Sonny Zaveri sold the winning Mega Millions lottery ticket at his Rocky Point stationery store, lottery officials said. (Dec. 23, 2009) Credit: James Carbone

The winners of the $162-million Mega Millions jackpot have been identified and will meet the public in a news conference later this week, lottery officials said Monday.

The ticket was handed in by the winners, who were accompanied by their attorney, at a lottery office in upstate Fishkill about 11:30 a.m., lottery spokeswoman Jennifer Givner said. Officials have validated the ticket, she said.

>> PHOTOS: Mega Millions winner on Long Island

Givner declined to release the names of the winners, saying they will be identified, possibly on Thursday, at a news conference on Long Island.

"They came into our Hudson Valley office," Givner said, adding that "security features associated with the ticket confirmed it was the winning ticket."

Lottery commission policy requires the winners to participate in the news conference, Givner said.

The winners also filled out a battery of financial paperwork after turning in the ticket, she said. Givner said the winners are not in possession of the money yet and declined to say exactly when they would get the prize, which will be a lump sum expected to be more than $100 million before taxes.

Greenport attorney Michael D. Solomon, who has said he represents a Suffolk County couple who won the jackpot, confirmed that the ticket was validated Monday. He declined to identify the couple, saying only that they were "ecstatic."

Solomon said the winners spent Monday afternoon with family members and were getting their financial house in order. He added: "Reality is starting to hit."

The winning ticket was purchased last month at a Rocky Point card store.

>>VIDEO: Click here to get an inside look into the Mega Millions winner

Solomon has described the couple who claimed the record-shattering jackpot as lifelong Long Islanders - high school sweethearts who have been married for 39 years and are "just getting by" financially.

At one point in their marriage, they were "extremely poor," Solomon said Friday. And since about 2004, he said, they've again found themselves on the brink of poverty. "They were almost forced into a survival existence for the last four or five years," Solomon has said.

With Matthew Chayes

>> PHOTOS: Mega Millions winner on Long Island

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