March 10, 2008 12:00 PM

For 24 years, Bobby Harris welded red-hot metal and hung steel girders, often on jobs that forced him to spend weeks away from his wife, Tonya, and two daughters in rural Portal, Ga. Even so, his ironworker’s pay at times barely covered expenses; he and Tonya twice declared bankruptcy. “There were days,” Tonya recalls, “I didn’t have a dollar in my pocket. “Not anymore. On Feb. 23, their daughter Felicia Williamson, who knew what numbers her parents had played in the Mega Millions Lottery the night before, called them at their mobile home with life-changing news: They had won $275 million. “Knowing we don’t have to worry about living from week to week,” says Harris, 47, “it’s unreal.”

It’s starting to sink in. Within hours, Harris resigned from his job. (“I used to be an ironworker,” he told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution). A few days later, he and Tonya, 54, a homemaker, couldn’t resist the urge to splurge: Bobby bought a shiny new Ford 4X4 pickup truck. And the couple—who took a lump sum of $167 million—have more lifestyle upgrades planned: building a new house along the nearby Ogeechee River, taking a long-desired vacation to Mexico, buying a Mercedes SUV for Tonya. What excites them most, though, is starting college funds for their six grandkids. “They’re the world to us,” Tonya says. “My grandson said, ‘Grandma, do you think you can buy me a dirt bike now?’ And I just cried.”

You May Like