Mega Millions winner to buy a farm

October 10, 2008 6:03:40 PM PDT
A Detroit-area man who won a $42 million Mega Millions jackpot plans to retire from Chrysler and become a pecan farmer in Georgia. Chris Crane, 51, was given a ceremonial check Friday at the Michigan Lottery headquarters in Lansing.

The resident of Macomb County's Washington Township told reporters he will leave his job as a Chrysler service engineer within weeks.

"I always wanted to do a little bit of farming," said Crane, who has some property in Georgia. "This will be my chance."

His 47-year-old wife, Tina, an X-ray technician for 30 years, also plans to retire. Her dream is to start a horse ranch for disabled children.

The Cranes, who have four children, plan to get the winnings over time rather than taking a lump-sum cash payment, which they worried could be hard to handle. The first payment is $1.65 million before taxes followed by annual pretax payments of $1.61 million for 25 years.

Asked if he would go out and celebrate immediately with an expensive dinner, Chris Crane said he probably would not.

"We'll probably just kind of take it easy for a while, sit back and just kind of soak everything in."

The first big purchase will be a Chrysler Town & Country minivan for Tina because that is "what she wants," Chris Crane said. He wants a red Challenger, the new retro-style muscle car created by Dodge.

He has played the same Mega Millions numbers regularly for a couple years, spending $20 twice a week on lottery tickets. The most he had ever won before was $7.

He found out he hit it big after returning home Saturday from a "mom-to-mom" sale, a garage sale-type event held at a local school. He got on the Internet, saw the lottery numbers matched and thought, "Who's the practical joker around here?"

He woke up his wife, who works the midnight shift.

"She looked at me with these big, huge, bloodshot eyes and was like, 'Mister, this better not be a joke."' The next day at church, the Cranes were "giving a lot of thanks," he said.

He is the eighth Michigan winner, and the jackpot is Michigan's sixth-largest. The game is played in 12 states, including New Jersey.

He bought the winning ticket at the Stoney Creek Liquor Shoppe in Washington Township, which will get $50,000 for selling it. The Cranes plan to become snowbirds and split their time between Michigan and Georgia.

Lottery Commissioner M. Scott Bowen said it was refreshing to see "nice people" like the Cranes win, especially because he said they talked about tithing some of their proceeds to churches. Overall in Michigan and elsewhere, lottery sales are down slightly because of the economy, Bowen said.

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