In the days after it became clear that a winning MegaMillions ticket had been sold in Maryland, speculation ran rampant over who would come forward to claim it, especially after a woman named Mirlande Wilson first claimed to be the winner, then said she’d lost the ticket. Now, more details have emerged about the real winners, and as Maryland Lottery Director Stephen Martino said “It couldn’t have happened to nicer people.”
While the winner’s names are being kept private, it turns out the three of them work in Maryland’s public education system as an elementary school teacher, a special education teacher, and an administrative assistant—and all of them work second jobs as well. They do not work in the same school, but know each other from work, and each contributed $20 to go in on tickets as a pool. They will take home $35 million after taxes, and according to Martino, plan to purchase homes, travel in Europe, and pay for their children’s college educations. And, in a nice little rebuke to ugly sentiments that paint public school teachers and public servants as lazy, Martino said they plan to keep teaching.
There is something quite nice about the idea that the MegaMillions will, at least in one state, enrich people of previously modest means. But that story’s only heartwarming in the first place because we don’t pay teachers enough so that they don’t need to take second jobs. It’s bittersweet that chance is making up for our failures of policy.