The unprecedented hysteria over the Mega Millions lottery, which teased Americans with its biggest jackpot in history on Friday night -- a whopping $640 million -- has finally concluded, at least for now. The Mega Millions group claims that three winners purchased the winning lottery tickets in Maryland, Illinois and Kansas; the winning numbers drawn on Friday night in Atlanta were 2, 4, 23, 38, 46, and the Mega Ball was 23.
In Cook County, there are now four pending lawsuits filed by employees of a suburban Chicago Heights bakery who claim they were deprived of chances to buy into a pool of lottery tickets that won a grand prize of $118 million.
"Three tickets matched all six numbers in the Friday, March 30, Mega Millions drawing," Mega Millions said on its website. "Those tickets will split the jackpot, estimated at a record-shattering $640 million. Those tickets were bought in Illinois, Kansas and Maryland."
If the lottery claimed a single winner, the ticketholder would claim about $462 million of the total $640 million, but after federal tax withholding, that number falls to about $347 million. If the money is split between three winners, each winner should claim about $115 million. Nonetheless, Mega Millions will be able to say it was responsible for the single biggest jackpot payout in the history of the lottery.
Sources say Mega Millions will eventually announce the winners on its website, but the winners will surely be discovered via the Internet before then.
The AP reported that Maryland lottery officials have announced early Saturday that the winning Mega Millions ticket was purchased at a convenience store in Baltimore County. Carole Everett, director of communications for the Maryland lottery, said it's too early to know any other information about the lucky ticketholder.
Illinois sold a winning ticket in the small town of Red Bud, near St. Louis. The winner reportedly used a quick pick to select the numbers, according to Illinois Lottery spokesman Mike Lang. A winning ticket also was purchased in northeast Kansas, according to the Kansas Lottery website, but spokespeople for the Kansas Lottery offered no further details.
Kelly Cripe, a spokeswoman for the Texas Lottery Commission, said that nationwide sales for the biggest Mega Millions jackpot totaled more than $839 million, just as of Tuesday. Officials projected an additional $618.5 million in sales ahead of Friday's drawing, however, for a projected total sales figure of more than $1.46 billion.
"This is unprecedented," Cripe told CBS on Friday.
Chuck Strutt, executive director of the Multi-State Lottery Association that oversees Mega Millions, Powerball, and other U.S. lotteries, said that the lottery isn't about math, it's about destiny.
"When people ask me, I just tell them that the odds of a lottery game make it a game of fate," Strutt said. "Just buy a ticket, sit back and see if fate points a finger at you for that day."
The estimated jackpot dwarfs the previous $390 million record, which was split in 2007 by two winners who bought tickets in Georgia and New Jersey.
The odds of winning a lottery jackpot are about 1 in 176 million, which means people are 50 times as likely to get struck by lightning, 8,000 times more likely to be murdered, and about 20,000 times more likely to die in a car crash than hit the jackpot.
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