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3 winning Mega Millions tickets, and one was sold in Illinois

7-Eleven clerk Matt Murphy hands MegMillions lottery tickets customer store 300 block N. LaSalle St. Friday March 30 2012 Chicago.

7-Eleven clerk Matt Murphy hands Mega Millions lottery tickets to a customer at a store on the 300 block of N. LaSalle St. Friday, March 30, 2012, in Chicago. As of about 4:30 p.m., Murphy said he estimates to have sold about $15,000 in Mega Millions tickets since beginning his shift at 10 a.m. | John J. Kim~Sun-Times

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Updated: May 1, 2012 8:30AM

Three lottery tickets sold in Illinois, Kansas and Maryland hit the world record-breaking $640 million Mega Millions jackpot, lottery officials said Saturday, 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, about 30 minutes outside of St. Louis, and the winner used a quick pick to select the lucky numbers, Illinois Lottery Supt. Michael Jones said.

“This is the largest prize ever won in Illinois,” an excited Jones said Saturday.

The downstate winner — who Jones said had not yet come forward — along with the Maryland and Kansas winners, will split the jackpot, each receiving some $213.3 million before taxes.

“That’s if he or she opts for being paid over a 26-year period,” Jones said. “If they decide they want to do the cash option, that would be a $154 million lump payout. And after withholding, they would actually have $108 million.”

The winner has 60 days to inform the Illinois Lottery of how they choose to collect, after which time it automatically becomes a 26-year payout. However, the winner has up to a year to come forward with the winning ticket, or forfeit the prize.

The winning numbers in Friday night’s drawing were 02-04-23-38-46; the Mega Ball, 23.

The Motomart store in Redbud that sold the winning ticket will receive a $500,000 bonus for selling the winning ticket, which was purchased Friday night.

“This is very exciting, people are extremely happy, and of course everybody wants to know who it is,” Motomart manager Denise Metzger said Saturday morning. “Hopefully I sold that ticket to someone who comes in every single morning.”

Lottery winners in Illinois are identified, but neither Maryland nor Kansas requires lottery winners to be identified; those two winners can claim the prize anonymously. And Illinois’ bonus for the store selling the winning ticket is larger than in other states — 1 percent of the winnings, with a cap of $500,000. The store that sold the winning ticket in Maryland will receive $100,000.

On Saturday, TV cameras descended on that store, a 7-Eleven in Baltimore County, Md., where the harried manager could only repeatedly say “No interviews” to reporters seeking details, as customers pushed through a media crush for their morning coffee.

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, a spokeswoman said. No winner had contacted the agency by Saturday morning, Kansas Lottery Director Dennis Wilson said, adding, “Hopefully they’re seeking good advice before coming in.”

And although Mega Millions players throughout Illinois had to put plans to buy their favorite sports team or multiple dream houses on hold, for twelve second-place winners, there was a silver lining worth $250,000. Those 12 came this/close to the jackpot by matching five of the first five numbers, and each will receive a quarter million.

In addition, one of those 12, who paid an extra dollar to play the Megaplier number, upped their prize to $1 million, because they matched five of the five numbers as well as the Megaplier number — which was 03, Jones said. That ticket was sold at the 7-Eleven at 1750 W. Foster Ave. in Chicago.

The other six Chicago-area winners bought tickets at DM Stores, Inc., 222 N. LaSalle St.; AG 26th Inc., 3201 W. 26th St.; Jewel Food Store, 1157 N. Eola Rd. in Aurora; Monee BP Fast n’ Fresh, 6001 W. Monee Rd. in Monee, and 7-Eleven at 305 N. Barrington Rd. in Streamwood. Another 65 Illinois players matched four of five numbers and the Mega Ball, to win a $10,000 prize.

The next Mega Millions drawing will be held on Tuesday, and the jackpot for that drawing is a comparatively paltry $12 million.

Friday’s jackpot dwarfed the previous $390 million record, which was split in 2007 by two winners who bought tickets in Georgia and New Jersey. The previous largest Illinois prize was won in 2000 — $186 million.

Americans spent nearly $1.5 billion for a chance to hit the jackpot. Thousands of players — who converged on convenience stores in 42 states and Washington, D.C., where Mega Millions tickets are sold — didn’t mind that they were 50 times as likely to get struck by lightning; about 8,000 times more likely to be murdered; and about 20,000 times more likely to die in a car crash than hit the lucky numbers.

With the odds at 1 in 176 million, it would have cost $176 million to buy up every combination. Yet players stood in line at retail stores from coast to coast on Friday for one last chance at striking it rich. The Illinois Lottery did $30 million in sales between Tuesday and Friday for the drawing — $20 million of that sold on Friday alone.

The new Illinois website, which took in some $1 million in sales, was down for about 30 minutes Friday afternoon for “maintenance,” giving some users trying to buy tickets error messages, officials said. Online lottery sales at debuted last Sunday, making Illinois the first state ever to offer lottery tickets online.

“We had several outages,” admitted Jones. “It’s a work in progress. We have protocol questions as well as bugs, and we will work together with the private manager Northstar to make sure that those things are fixed.”

Contributing: Dave McKinney, Associated Press

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