Then along came her estranged husband. And now the story features a mug shot of Lahti sporting a black eye, and reports that she may have to split her winnings with her husband, who has been arrested on charges ranging from second-degree kidnapping to domestic battery and DUI.
Lahti, of Rathdrum, Idaho, became one of two winners last week to split the multi-state Mega Millions jackpot, the second-largest lottery jackpot in U.S. history. At the time, a neighbor of her mother's told reporters about how the woman visited her mother almost daily, and co-workers at Inland Northwest Bank in Post Falls, Idaho, talked about how excited there were for her.
"She's very sweet. Very down to earth. Just a really nice person," the manager of Ady's Convenience and Car Wash, which was awarded $50,000 for selling the winning ticket, told ABC News. "Good head on her shoulders. I think she'll do very well."
But by Saturday, the local ABC News affiliate KXLY was reporting that her estranged husband, Joshua Lahti, found out about his wife's winning ticket from a reporter. The couple, who married in 2001, have since separated but are not divorced, the station reported.
Next came the mug shots, published on the Radar.com website and featured in reports on ABC News and in the U.K.'s Daily Mail newspaper. The reports cited a January 2003 incident when she and Joshua Lahti both were arrested and jailed on battery charges, which were later dropped.
But her brushes with the law pale in comparison with the criminal histories of some past jackpot winners. Among other cases:
In 2008, a Michigan man who won $57 million in the Mega Millions lottery was later reported to be a registered sex offender with a criminal past including charges of forced-entry burglary.
Also in 2008, the Massachusetts winner of a $10 million jackpot turned out to be a high-risk sex offender who failed to notify the state when he moved from Connecticut, apparently violating the state sex offender law.
And in 2007, the winner of a $1 million lottery scratch ticket in Boston was revealed to be a convicted bank robber who, under the terms of his probation, was prohibited from gambling.