LINCOLN — Winning half of a $122 million Powerball lottery jackpot is proving more time-consuming for a Gretna couple than they had expected.
In their first public appearance since winning the lottery on Dec. 11, David and Erica Harrig said they've spent most of their time since assembling a team of about a dozen financial advisers and accountants to ensure they'll have a financial “legacy” to share with their family.
“We've heard stories,” said David Harrig, 48. “We don't want to be one of those stories that after five years, you have nothing.”
Erica Harrig, 36, said the couple have gotten less than six hours of sleep a night since winning.
Said her husband: “I've retired from a full-time job, and now we picked up another one.”
“We still don't comprehend the numbers,” he added.
Harrig did reveal that the winning Powerball numbers were a bit of a mistake.
He said he played Powerball regularly, usually buying one or two tickets a week, and customarily picked the same numbers. The first was his lucky number, “3,” followed by the birth dates of his wife and their children.
Inadvertently, he picked the number “1” as his first Powerball number last week.
“Some people say it's a mistake, some people say it was a miracle, and some of my friends say it's my IQ,” he joked.
Harrig, who had worked at Lincoln's Duncan Aviation refurbishing aircraft interiors, said that his largest lottery win prior to last week was $12 and that he almost gave up.
“I think we broke even,” he said about his lottery ticket purchases.
The couple said that many decisions are yet to come, but they had already decided on a couple of purchases. David has ordered a red Corvette, Erica is pondering a new dream house, and they have purchased a record player for David's mother.
When they told her they had won the lottery, they asked what she wanted. A record player, she answered.
The Harrigs still haven't decided whether to take a cash payout of $34.18 million or spread out their winnings by taking the annuity option. That would yield a total of $61.45 million paid out annually over 29 years.
Exactly how much those amounts will be after taxes was not revealed on Tuesday.
“It's more than I had Tuesday,” David Harrig said of the final monetary award.
The couple, who have been married 15 years, said their advisers will help them sort out how they will take their surprise.
David said he prayed immediately after learning of their luck, asking God to “guide us, so good will happen.”
Erica's mother, Margaret Frederick of Gretna, said she has sensed no change in her daughter or son-in-law.
“They're grounded people. They're just staying very focused,” said Frederick, whose family had operated a grocery store in Gretna for several years.
Do you worry about how they will handle their sudden riches? she was asked.
“I worry about all of my children,” Frederick said.
“We worry about them less,” said Fredericks' brother, Mark, of the state's newest millionaires.
Erica Harrig said she did have a change of heart about not retiring from her job at Bergan Mercy Medical Center in Omaha until she turned 40.
“Reality set in,” she said. “Let me enjoy the roller coaster and not have to set my alarm clock for 4:10 in the morning.”
The couple spoke during a press conference Tuesday afternoon at the State Capitol.
Gov. Dave Heineman presented them a ceremonial check of their winnings, and posed for photographs with the winning couple.
“Christmas came early for the Harrig family,” the governor said.
The Harrigs opened their portion of the program by taking photographs of the crush of reporters and photographers crowded into the governor's hearing room to hear their story.
They ended the press conference by hugging the owners of the Speedee Mart where they bought their winning ticket, Dave and Theresa Gulizia.
“It couldn't happen to a better couple,” said Erica's uncle, Joe McMenamin of Omaha.
The World-Herald published an exclusive interview with David and Erica Harrig on Friday.
The Gretna couple conveyed a mixture of emotions, ranging from joy to fear, anticipation to worry. Material changes are coming. Transformations in character, they hope, are not.
"We just want the basics," David Harrig said. "We're not looking to go all opulent."
Powerball millionaires as of December 2013
Nebraska Powerball Jackpot Winners
1. Lyle and Dianne Fleharty of Hastings, $50.1 million, July 30, 1994
2. Connie Daily of North Platte, $50.5 million (split $101 million with an Indiana winner), Nov. 30, 1994
3. Donald and Rita Polak of Prague, $8.1 million on April 19, 1995
4. Greg Klein of Milford, $2.5 million (split $5 million with an Indiana winner), April 24, 1996
5. Richard and Iris Johnson of Ayr, $18.5 million (cash option on $33 million), Nov. 28, 1998
6. Marilyn and Charles Anderson of North Platte, $2.54 million (cash option on $10 million split with a Kentucky winner), Nov. 3, 1999
7. Shirley Brewer of Omaha, $7.5 million (cash option on $14 million), Aug. 26, 2000
8. Steven Herber of Omaha, $5.6 million (three-way split of $30 million, $16.5 million cash option), Dec. 22, 2004
9. Quang Dao, David Gehle, Alain Maboussou, Chasity Rutjens, Robert Stewart, Michael Terpstra, Dung Tran, and Eric Zornes of Lincoln, $177.3 million (cash option on $365 million), Feb. 18, 2006
10. David and Erica Harrig, $61.45 million/$34.18 million cash (split $122.9 million with a Massachusetts winner), Dec. 11, 2013
Jackpot winners can chose the cash or annuity option up to 60 days after they claim the prize.
$1 Million Powerball
1. Christopher Braun, Omaha – February 2012
2. Marcella Stoller, Omaha – October 2012
3. Barbara Maas, Hoskins – October 2012
4. Crystal Slaughter, Omaha – April 2012
5. Roger Cook, Lincoln – May 2013
6. Darold Kempston, Dorchester – June 2013
7. Thomas Reiners, Omaha – August 2013
8. Dustin Wood, Lincoln – September 2013
9. Patricia Krontz, Homer – October 2013
10. Jerry Wells, Lincoln – November 2013
In January 2012, the Match 5 Powerball Prize was changed from $200,000 to $1 million.
$2 Million Powerball with Power Play
1. Mark Davies, Bennington – August 2012
2. Lonnie White, Seward – May 2013
Players who choose to add the $1 Power Play option have the chance to play for enhanced prizes. The Match 5 Powerball Prize is $2 million with the Power Play option selected.