3 Mega Millions winning tickets; 1 from Illinois

April 1, 2012 7:21:24 AM PDT
For the rest of us who spent more than $1.5 billion on Mega Millions tickets, it was just a normal Saturday of chores, work or relaxation.

But for at least three people, it's a day of life-changing fortune.

One winning ticket was purchased in the small downstate Illinois town of Red Bud, near St. Louis. The second was purchased in Baltimore County, Maryland and the third ticket was bought in northeast Kansas.

There were also some lucky second-prize winners from Chicago.

The winning numbers drawn Friday night were 2-4-23-38-46 and the Mega Ball number was 23.

The morning after Friday's drawing, most of us are left with our dreams of how we would have spent the more than half billion dollar jackpot. A winner here in our state and at least two other states, will share in the $640 million, the largest lottery jackpot in U.S. history.

Each winning ticket matched all six numbers and is expected to be worth $213 million before taxes.

The Illinois winner bought a quick pick ticket at a convenience store in the tiny town of Red Bud with a population of just over 3,700.

Saturday, employees who sold the winning quick pick were beside themselves

"All week long I was saying, I just wished somebody from Red Bud would win," said Denise Metzger, manager of Motomart in Red Bud. "I never in my wildest dreams ever think that it would really happen."

In addition to the one winner in Illinois, there were also 12 second-place winning tickets worth $250,000. One winner purchased the ticket at a North Side 7-Eleven and used the Mega Plier feature to up their prize to $1 million..

The store owners will get a $100,000 bonus for selling the winning ticket as well as the usual 5-percent of each dollar ticket sold.

The run-up to riches began more than nine weeks ago on Jan. 24, with the jackpot at a mere $12 million.

"It was 18 drawings in a row where no one won," said Michael Jones, Illinois Lottery superintendent. "And the state probably made $60 million out of that run. All the money we generate will be deposited into the common school fund and into the roads, right away."

Unlike Illinois, Maryland and Kansas do not require lottery winners to be identified.

"We had two Powerball jackpot winners last year and neither one of them decided to do any publicity so we'll have to see what happens," said Maryland lottery director Stephen Martino.

At the height of the excitement, more than 33,000 tickets were being sold a minute as the state's new online lottery website creaked under the strain.

And while most people are bummed about not striking it rich, some hope whoever won use the money well.

"I hope they have a great time with it and do good things with it," said Russell Leander

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.