* At least two winning tickets were 'quick picks'
* Record-breaking windfall kept rising
(Adds details, quotes, edits)
By David Beasley
ATLANTA, March 31 Three lucky ticket-holders in
Illinois, Kansas and Maryland will share the largest lottery
jackpot in U.S. history of $656 million, after about 1.5 billion
$1 tickets were sold, lottery officials said on Saturday.
At least two of the winners' tickets were "quick picks" -
meaning all six numbers of the Mega Millions lottery computer
picked the winning numbers announced at the drawing Friday night
in Atlanta: 2-4-23-38-46 and Mega Ball 23.
Lottery officials said the lucky tickets were purchased at a
7-Eleven store in Milford Mill, Maryland, near Baltimore, and
the Motomart convenience store in the southern Illinois farming
town of Red Bud. Kansas has not released details yet of the
A pre-dawn call alerted Motomart manager Denise Metzger to
news from lottery officials that a winning ticket was sold at
her store in the tiny farming community of Red Bud, with less
than 4,000 residents, about 30 miles southeast of St. Louis.
"I screamed, I woke my husband up," said Metzger, whose
retail outlet will receive $500,000 for selling a winning
Residents swarmed the store within hours of the announcement
to check their tickets, although no winner has yet emerged, she
"I think everyone in town has been here already," she joked.
Though the winner - who has not yet contacted Illinois
lottery officials - may want to remain anonymous, in Illinois
the state is required to eventually list his or her identity in
Winners could receive either a one-time payment of their
share or take it in 26 annual installment payments.
The three tickets were worth more than $213 million before
taxes, if the payout was over 26 years. If taken in a lump sum,
the windfall would be about $105.1 million, officials said.
"Each of the winners gets $105.1 million in cash after taxes
roughly, but who cares about pennies at this point?" said Carole
Everett, spokeswoman for the Maryland Lottery.
SINGLE QUICK PICK WINS
The winning Maryland ticket was a single quick pick ticket
sold at about 7:15 p.m. on Friday at the 7-Eleven franchise in
Milford Mill, Everett said.
"They are shocked they are getting the $100,000 bonus,"
Everett said of Ethiopian immigrants Abera and Mimi Tessema, who
have owned the 7-Eleven for 10 years and learned they would get
a winning seller's bonus.
In addition to the three jackpot winners, there were three
tickets that matched the Mega Ball number to win $1 million each
and 158 tickets that picked five of the six chosen numbers to
win $250,000 each, said Kelly Cripe, spokeswoman for the Texas
Lottery, which oversaw the Mega Millions game.
Kansas lottery officials were not releasing the exact
location where the ticket was sold except to say that it was in
the most populated northeast part of the state.
The jackpot kept rising during Friday before the drawing as
millions of players tried their luck, buying about 1.5 billion
tickets and pushing the figure to $656 million, lottery
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
(Additional reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles,
Barbara Goldberg in New York, Teresa Carson in Portland, Keith
Coffman in Denver and Laura Zuckerman in Idaho; Editing by Greg
McCune and Philip Barbara)