(Deletes reference to retailer bonus in fifth paragraph)
By David Beasley
ATLANTA, Dec 18 (Reuters) - A store owner in Atlanta said she was thrilled to learn on Wednesday that her shop, and another in San Jose, California, had sold winning tickets for an estimated $636 million Mega Millions jackpot, the second biggest in U.S. lottery history.
Young Soo Lee, who owns a Gateway Newsstand in Atlanta’s affluent Buckhead area, said she learned from local television news that one of her customers had purchased a winning ticket.
“I‘m so happy,” said Lee, who came to the United States from Korea in 1980 and bought the newsstand located in an office building on Lenox Road nine years ago.
There was no immediate word on the identity of the jackpot winners, but Lee said even her customers who did not win were sharing in the excitement.
“Everybody is a hug, a hug, a hug,” she said.
Another winning ticket was purchased at a retail location named Jennifer’s Gift Shop on Tully Road in San Jose, according to Alex Traverso, a lottery official in California.
The winning numbers for Tuesday’s drawing were: 8, 14, 17, 20, 39, and 7, according to the lottery’s website, Megamillions.com.
The winners will split the jackpot, though they can each choose whether to claim the money as an annuity paid out over 30 years or as a lump sum cash payout, which would amount to half each of an estimated $341 million haul, the lottery said.
The prize swelled after a spike in sales ahead of Tuesday night’s drawing.
As many as 70 percent of the tickets are typically bought on the day of the drawing, said Paula Otto, Virginia’s lottery director, who heads the multi-state Mega Millions game.
Ticket buying reached a fever pitch over the weekend, with 20 percent more chances sold than expected, Otto said.
The surge of spending pushed the prize closer to the record U.S. jackpot of $656 million, won in March 2012 in a Mega Millions drawing.
Totals for Tuesday’s jackpot will be updated again after the drawing, she said. (Additional reporting by Eric M. Johnson; Writing by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Bernadette Baum)