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Lottery winners include Illinois schools — pocketing $31.5 million

Illinois Lottery Supt. Michael Jones presents $1 millicheck Powerball winner RotJuarez Schiller Park last month. (l-r) Michael Jones RotJuarez Janet

Illinois Lottery Supt. Michael Jones presents a $1 million check to Powerball winner Rota Juarez of Schiller Park last month. (l-r) Michael Jones, Rota Juarez, Janet Monte, daughter and Felupe Juarez, husband of Rota. | John H. White~Chicago Sun-Times.

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Updated: May 4, 2012 8:06AM

SPRINGFIELD — The mystery Downstater who netted $219 million from last week’s Mega Millions drawing wasn’t Illinois’ only big winner from the largest jackpot in world history.

The state itself came out of the deal smelling like a rose, as well.

As a result of the nine-week run-up to the $656 million drawing, Illinois’ treasury will get a $31.5 million cut that will go toward the state’s Common School Fund, lottery officials reported Monday.

That infusion was driven, in part, by record sales. Total lottery receipts stood at $94.36 million for last week alone, easily eclipsing the old weekly sales record of $73.8 million set in 1989, the agency said.

“My takeaway from all of this is that this grand experiment in raising revenue in a non-coersive way through a lottery, which has been popular for hundreds of years, was able to be redefined again in the minds of all the adults in Illinois on March 30, 2012,” state Lottery Supt. Michael Jones told the Chicago Sun-Times.

“I think it was a perfect example of what the lottery is all about. Millions of people throughout the state of Illinois participated in a lottery. They risked a small amount of money, a buck, against odds of 176 million to one, and one Illinoisan won $219 million,” Jones said. “It’s been an enormous social, coming-together.”

The winner from Downstate Red Bud in southwestern Illinois still has not stepped forward, though the convenience store where the winning ticket was purchased will receive a $500,000 commission. The winner has a year to come forward and 60 days to seek a lump-sum payout.

If no winner emerges, the $219 million would be claimed by the state and deposited in the Common School Fund, Jones said.

“That would be awful. I want someone to come forward soon,” he said.

Eleven Illinois players matched five numbers in the Friday drawing, assuring each a $250,000 prize. One other player who opted for the Megaplier feature of the game won $1 million.

The lottery said hourly sales peaked at $2.3 million between 5 and 6 p.m. Friday, shortly before the drawing, as tickets sold at a rate of $37,600 per minute.

Also, the first week of selling lottery tickets online netted $1.14 million in sales. Of that, $652,397 will go toward state construction projects.

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