Man collects his half of $587.5 mn jackpot early fearing fiscal 'cliff'

The uncertainty posed by the looming US fiscal cliff is having an impact on the multimillion-dollar Powerball lottery: A man who claimed half of the record $587.5 million jackpot is collecting his winnings now rather than wait until next year.

Lottery officials announced Friday that a married man in his 30s from a wealthy Phoenix suburb has claimed his half of the $587.5 million Powerball jackpot, deciding to collect the winnings now and not next year because of the looming U.S. fiscal cliff.

The man decided to remain anonymous after he bought $10 worth of tickets and kept the winning slip in the visor of his car overnight before realizing he was a multimillionaire.

He gave $20 to the cashier of a Fountain Hills convenience store, and the clerk nudged him to spend the entire amount on tickets. He declined the offer.

After the man and his wife learned of their good fortune, the husband pulled together a team of financial advisers and decided to take all of his share this month to avoid potentially higher taxes in 2013, said Karen Bach, a lottery official.

"He did have concern with the uncertainty with the fiscal cliff in 2013,'' Bach said, referring to the federal fiscal situation that could result in higher income tax rates.

The man and his lawyer met with lottery officials Friday, and he opted to take the cash option of $192 million before taxes. Lottery officials said his wife owns half the prize because Arizona is a community property state.

"He and his wife couldn't believe it,'' Bach said. "They checked the numbers over and over again _ absolutely shocked.''

Bach said the man is smart and wants to take time to make a solid financial plan and set up a charitable entity to aid causes that he and his wife support. Lottery officials say the man told them he enjoys his job and has no immediate plans to quit.

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