At least three winners in record $640 million U.S. lottery

The largest lottery jackpot in U.S. history of $640 million has at least three winners who bought tickets in Maryland, Illinois and Kansas, and officials were waiting on Saturday for the winners to come forward.

Lottery officials in Maryland and Illinois said that winning tickets were purchased in their states, and a winning ticket was also bought in Kansas, according to the state’s lottery website.

The Maryland ticket was sold at a 7-eleven store in the Baltimore area and the Illinois ticket in the tiny town of Red Bud, near St. Louis. The Kansas ticket was sold in the northeast region of the state, the state lottery website said, though the town was not disclosed.

“We can confirm that a winning ticket was sold in Illinois,” said Illinois Lottery spokeswoman Liz Leonard. She said the winner there had used the “quick pick” method of choosing numbers.

The winners whose tickets had all six numbers of the Mega Millions lottery drawn on Friday night will split the jackpot, or about $213 million each before taxes.

“This is truly remarkable and historic,” said Maryland lottery director Stephen Martino said.

The winning numbers announced at the drawing in Atlanta were 2-4-23-38-46 and Mega Ball 23. Winners could receive either a one-time payment of their share or take it in 26 annual installment payments.

Though the winner may want to remain anonymous, in Illinois the state is required to eventually list his or her identity in public records.

A lottery official in Maryland said the winning ticket there also was a quick pick but the identity of the person was not yet known.

The owners of the 7-Eleven store receive a $100,000 bonus for selling the winning ticket, in addition to the usual five percent of each $1 ticket sold, he said.

There had been a tremendous amount of excitement ahead of the drawing, with over one billion tickets sold, lottery officials said.

The previous largest Mega Millions jackpot was $390 million in 2007, which was split between two ticket holders in Georgia and New Jersey.

About half the lottery money goes back to ticket holders in the form of winnings, 35 percent to state governments and 15 percent to retailer commissions and lottery operating expenses.

No matter who wins the jackpot, one certain winner is the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. The tax-collecting agency subjects lottery winnings of more than $5,000 to a 25-percent federal withholding tax.

By David Beasley

ATLANTA (Reuters) – (Additional reporting by Teresa Carson in Portland, Keith Coffman in Denver and Laura Zuckerman in Idaho; Writing by Philip Barbara, Editing by Anthony Boadle, Sandra Maler and Greg McCune)


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