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Who's got the golden ticket?

Cashiers Michaela MacDonald and Mona Monroe, either of whom could have sold the 12.5 million dollar Megabucks ticket, and owner Merelyn Richard are all smiles as they stand by the lottery display at the Top of the Hill Store in Dalton. Kayti Burt. (click for larger version)
August 12, 2010
DALTON — The streets are still abuzz with talk of who could be the lucky holder of the $12.5 million Megabucks ticket sold at Dalton's Top of the Hill Store. The numbers were drawn last Wednesday, resulting in the single highest winning lottery ticket in the Tri-State Megabuck's history — and the winner has still yet to come forward.

"If I were them, I would wait," said Merelyn Richard, who owns the Top of the Hill store with her husband, Bob. "I would call my lawyer. Actually, I would find a lawyer," she laughs. Mrs. Richard finally has something to laugh about. It has been a hard past couple of years for the store, with a string of break-ins. Now, with the $30,000 bonus the store gets as the seller of the winning ticket, they will be able to improve their security.

"It has been a tough couple of years, so it couldn't have come at a better time," said Mrs. Richard.

The Richards were called in the middle of night by a friend who heard that the winning ticket had been sold at the Top of the Hill Store on WMUR's 11 o'clock news.

"I didn't believe her," recalled Mrs. Richard, instead thinking it was a misunderstanding and going back to bed. A second call from another friend at 5 a.m. convinced Mrs. Richard that, if anything, there must have been another break-in. But a break-in it was not.

The Richards have owned the convenience store for 13 years, but have been in the grocery business for much longer.

"We've been in this business forever," said Mrs. Richard. "We met in this business."

The Richards lived just 4 and a half miles away from the Top of the Hill Store, in Littleton, but never knew of it until Mr. Richard decided to leave his job as Butson's manager.

"Butson's started getting bigger," said Mrs. Richard, "and we're not big people."

It is hard to get much smaller than what they have now. They run the only store in Dalton, and know most of their customers.

"I am hoping it is going to be somebody local," said Mrs. Richard of the winner, "that whoever gets it is whoever needs it."

As for the identity of that winner, Mrs. Richard has no idea. The store has sold maybe 100 tickets to roughly 25 people in the past few days, she said, and the ticket could have been bought even before that.

"We sell a lot of tickets. A lot of people around here play the lottery," said cashier Michaela MacDonald who could have been the one to sell the ticket.

The Top of the Hill Store will be presented with their money on Friday. The winner, whoever they may be, has still yet to come forward, and has a year to do so.

The winning numbers are 8, 9, 12, 20, 35, and Megaball number 4. The winner may choose to receive the money in installments over a period of 30 years, or to receive the roughly $7.8 million before taxes in one immediate installment.

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