RED BUD, Ill. (AP) - Three lottery tickets sold in Illinois, Kansas and Maryland hit the world record-breaking $640 million Mega Millions jackpot, lottery officials said today, leaving scores of players across the country with busted multi-millionaire dreams.
Illinois' winning ticket was bought at a convenience store in the small town of Red Bud, near St. Louis, and the winner used a quick pick to select the lucky numbers, Illinois Lottery spokesman Mike Lang said. Each winning ticket was expected to be worth more than $213 million before taxes.
"This is very exciting, people are extremely happy, and of course everybody wants to know who it is," Denise Metzger, manager of the Motomart where the winning ticket was sold, said this morning. "Hopefully I sold that ticket to someone who comes in every single morning."
In Maryland, television cameras were descending on the 7-Eleven in Baltimore County where the state's winning ticket was purchased. The harried manager could only repeatedly say "No interviews" to the reporters pressing for details, and customers pushed through the media crush for their morning coffee on Saturday.
Nyeri Murphy, holding two scratch-off tickets, said she normally plays Powerball but drove to neighboring Harford County to buy $70 worth of Mega Millions tickets this week. "I should have bought them here," she said.
None of Jackie Williams' tickets won, either, but she said it was "fabulous" that a winning ticket was sold near Baltimore city.
"It's like a small town," she said. "I'll bet I'll know someone who knows the winner."
Maryland does not require lottery winners to be identified; the Mega Millions winner can claim the prize anonymously. The store will receive a $100,000 bonus for selling the winning ticket, which was purchased Friday night.
The third winning ticket was purchased in northeast Kansas, but no other information would be released by the Kansas Lottery until the winner comes forward, spokeswoman Cara S. Sloan-Ramos said.
No winner had contacted the agency by Saturday morning, Kansas Lottery Director Dennis Wilson said. "Hopefully they're seeking good advice before coming in," he said.
Kansas law also allows lottery winners to remain anonymous, though lottery winners in Illinois are identified.
Each winning ticket was expected to be worth more than $213 million before taxes, Lang said. The winning numbers in Friday night's drawing were 02-04-23-38-46, and the Mega Ball 23.
Maryland Lottery spokeswoman Carole Everett said the last time a ticket from the state won a major national jackpot was in 2008, when a ticket sold for $24 million.
"We're thrilled," she said. "We're due and excited."
The estimated jackpot dwarfs the previous $390 million record, which was split in 2007 by two winners who bought tickets in Georgia and New Jersey.
Americans spent nearly $1.5 billion for a chance to hit the jackpot, which amounts to a $462 million lump sum and around $347 million after federal tax withholding. With the jackpot odds at 1 in 176 million, it would cost $176 million to buy up every combination. Under that scenario, the strategy would win $171 million less if your state also withholds taxes.
From coast to coast, people stood in line at retail stores Friday for one last chance at striking it rich.
Maribeth Ptak, 31, of Milwaukee, said she only buys Mega Millions tickets when the jackpot is really big and she bought one Friday at a Milwaukee grocery store. She said she'd use the money to pay off bills, including school loans, and then she'd donate a good portion to charity.
"I know the odds are really not in my favor, but why not," she said.
Sawnya Castro, 31, of Dallas, bought $50 worth of tickets at a 7-Eleven. She figured she'd use the money to create a rescue society for Great Danes, fix up her grandmother's house, and perhaps even buy a bigger one for herself.
"Not too big - I don't want that. Too much house to keep with," she said.
Willie Richards, who works for the U.S. Marshals Service at a federal courthouse in Atlanta, figured if there ever was a time to confront astronomical odds, it was when $640 million was at stake. He bought five tickets for Friday's drawing.
"When it gets as big as it is now, you'd be nuts not to play," he said. "You have to take a chance on Lady Luck."