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Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

From right Ronnie Orendor, Etta May Urquhart, and her husband Bob, far left, leave the Mobil gas station on Oak Street and Brundage Lane where they staked their claim on a $51 million MEGA Millions lottery ticket. The ticket will be verified by lottery officials before they can receive their winnings.

Etta May Urquhart was shaking. She couldn’t catch her breath and she stumbled over her words.

Her reaction was understandable. It’s not every day you win $51 million.

California Lottery spokeswoman Catherine Doyle Johnston it’s the single biggest lottery win ever in Kern County.

Urquhart and her husband, Bob, arrived at Stuarts Oak Street Mobil about 9:45 a.m. Wednesday to confirm they had bought the winning MEGA Millions ticket. The estimated cash option amount for the ticket, which they bought at Stuarts on Tuesday, is $32.3 million.

Sid Ramirez, lottery sales manager for the Central Valley, quickly ushered the Urquharts to their SUV after they met with lottery officials and the station’s owner. Ramirez said the ticket needs to be validated, and a press conference will be held Thursday at the lottery’s district office in Fresno.

Bob Urquhart, 78, said he subscribes to The Californian and he especially enjoys columnist Herb Benham. Having received a call minutes earlier telling him Urquhart was a fan, Benham raced to the station and congratulated him in person. Benham had planned to ask a few questions, but was barely able to get a few words in before Ramirez herded the Urquharts into the vehicle.

Earlier, Etta May Urquhart, 75, briefly left the store, sipping a soda and trying to catch her breath. She called her sister to share the good news. She said her sister is 74 years old and shouldn’t be working at her age.

Now she won’t have to. A portion of the money will be shared with the sister.

The sister, Wanda Griffith, said she had to call Etta May back because she couldn’t make out what she was saying.

“She’s been telling me for years, ‘If we win the lottery you’re going to retire,’” Griffith said.

A senior credit analyst at Commercial Trade Inc., Griffith said she’s going to spend six weeks training a replacement before calling it quits. She said her husband’s been in poor health and this money will allow her to stay home and care for him.

She’s also going to buy him a new riding lawnmower. Other than that, Griffith had no immediate plans for the money and wasn’t sure what her sister and brother-in-law would spend it on.

“There’s nothing really that I want,” Griffith said. “I just want to be happy and I’m a happy person.”

Stuarts owner John Stuart said he was notified Wednesday morning that his station sold the winning ticket. He said he doesn’t know the Urquharts personally, but he’s heard they’re longtime customers.

“I’m pretty happy it was sold in Bakersfield and that it’s a local winner,” Stuart said.

He has other reasons to be happy. A total of 255,000 reasons. That’s the amount of money his station will collect — half of one percent of the jackpot — for selling the winning ticket.

The winning numbers were 1, 16, 29, 36, 50, and Mega number 16, according to a California Lottery news release.