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Routine pays off big for Iowa woman

Marla Ballard

Drawing Date: 3/14/2023

March 16, 2023 - A Des Moines, Iowa, woman follows a specific process to get her tickets, and this time, it came through with a $1 million prize.

“Look at me, I’m shaking. I guess it’s starting to hit,” Marla Ballard told officials on Thursday as she claimed her Mega Millions® prize at Iowa Lottery headquarters in Clive. “I’m kind of overwhelmed right now.”

Ballard, 60, matched all five white balls but missed the Mega Ball to win a $1 million prize in Tuesday’s Mega Millions drawing. It was one of just three tickets nationwide to reach the game’s second prize level, along with tickets purchased in California and North Carolina.

Ballard said she has an arrangement worked out with her neighbor, Ron Hubbard. Once the jackpot reaches $100 million, she gives him money to buy her tickets when he buys his own. Hubbard bought Ballard’s lucky easy-pick ticket at QuikTrip, 3941 SE 14th St. in Des Moines.

“He goes to the store, picks them up, and brings them over when he comes back home,” she said.

Then, a couple days after each drawing, Hubbard writes down the winning numbers and comes over again to show his neighbor. After hearing a $1 million-winning ticket was sold in Des Moines, he wasted little time.

“He was over first thing this morning, too,” Ballard said with a laugh. “I’m like, ‘Who’d be knocking at our door this early in the morning?’”

Once she realized her ticket matched five of six numbers in the drawing, she went online to verify the prize amount. After seeing it was $1 million, she called lottery headquarters just to make sure, and then made plans to claim her prize.

Tuesday’s winning numbers were: 1-7-23-38-55 and Mega Ball 2. The Megaplier number was 3. No one matched all six numbers to win the jackpot, so the big prize climbs to an estimated $254 million annuity, $133.7 million lump-sum option for Friday’s drawing.

QuikTrip will receive a $1,000 bonus from the Iowa Lottery for selling the $1 million-winning ticket at one of its stores.

Ballard said that amid the rush of emotions surrounding her win, she hasn’t yet thought about what she’ll do with her winnings.

Another $1 million Mega Millions prize won in Iowa remains unclaimed after more than six months. That winning ticket, purchased at Gateway Expresse (also known as The Filling Station), at 2400 S. University Blvd. in Ames, matched all five white balls but missed the Mega Ball to win at the game’s second prize level in the drawing on Sept. 6, 2022. The winner or winners of the Ames prize have until the close of business on Sept. 6, 2023, to claim it at lottery headquarters in Clive.