Illinois winner of record lottery prize to appear on Wednesday

CHICAGO Mon Apr 16, 2012 7:06pm EDT

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CHICAGO (Reuters) - The only one of three winners of a record $656 million Mega Millions lottery who is required to go public will be identified in the southern Illinois farming town of Red Bud on Wednesday, lottery officials said.

Winners in two other states, Kansas and Maryland, are not required to come forward publicly and both opted to remain anonymous.

The presentation of a mock $218.6 million check will be made to the winner at a press conference on Wednesday morning, Illinois lottery officials said on Monday.

Illinois lottery rules require winners to be identified and appear before the media.

"Respecting the privacy of the winner, we cannot release their name or personal information until then," lottery officials said.

Lottery officials said identifying winners ensures the public that the prizes are awarded, and awarded randomly.

Three friends who work in Maryland's public school system offered scant details about themselves, and a winner in Kansas revealed no details.

Both chose the lump-sum payment worth $158 million before taxes, or $218.6 million if taken in 26 annual payments.

The Illinois winner had 60 days from the March 30 drawing to claim the lump sum, which should be worth about $110 million after initial taxes are taken out, lottery superintendent Michael Jones said.

If the winner had waited longer, the jackpot would have been awarded in yearly payments.

The ticket was sold at a gas station in Red Bud, southeast of St. Louis, Missouri.

"We haven't heard anything. You guys know more than I do," said Darla Beckette, who works at the Moto Mart where the ticket was sold. The station's nine employees are to split $50,000, out of $500,000 awarded to the station's owner.

The Mega Millions lottery is played in 42 states, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Washington, D.C.

(Reporting By Andrew Stern; Editing by Greg McCune and Xavier Briand)

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