Mega Millions drawing leads to $1M lottery ticket in Chicago

December 18, 2013 (CHICAGO)

That ticket was sold at the Tai Nam Market at 4925 North Broadway. So, if you bought a ticket there, check these winning numbers: 8, 14, 17, 20, 39; Mega Ball: 7.

"I hope I am the one that punched that, pushed the button," said Phieu Tran, Tai Nam Vietnamese market co-owner, who will get $10,000 for selling the lucky ticket. "I am very happy, happy for the winner. Somebody called this morning, and e-mail, and on the way in I heard it on the radio."

The storeowners say a woman who claims to have won the $1 million is a regular customer who came to the store around noon Wednesday, told them she had the winning ticket, and then vanished without giving her name.

"The woman came in and asked for the procedure to claim the prize. Our associate thought maybe she would be the one, so we asked her again, and she finally admitted that she is the winner. So I came out and asked to take pictures she said OK. I took a picture and then I tried to ask her name and some other information but she wouldn't, she just left really quick," said Phieu.

The excitement is stretching throughout the shopping center.

The owner of Le's Pho Vietnamese Noodle Shop next door bought 25 tickets. He was furiously checking the numbers. Unfortunately, he is not the $1 million winner.

"We have been neighbors for over 20 years, yes, so I was hoping that was us," said Khanh Le, restaurant owner. "The people who shop here are in the neighborhood, so I may see who is going to be the winner today."

"About $21 million was generated by your lottery for the Common School Fund and bridges and roads; that's what a lottery is all about. You risk a small amount of money, a dollar, and a wonderful lottery retailer like this, very long odds to win a very large prize," said Michael Jones, Illinois Lottery director.

The store has a history of selling wining tickets - one of them $20,000 - but this is the first $1 million ticket. Lotto officials say after taxes they'll get about $780,000.

"This is a far cry from being in Red Bud, Illinois, a year ago in March, but here we are in Chicago where we had a million-dollar winner," Jones said.

There were 1,123,586 additional winning tickets sold in Illinois for Tuesday night's drawing. Lower-tier prizes for those tickets range from $1 to $5,000. All prizes must be claimed within a year of the drawing.

Sales of Mega Millions tickets peaked Tuesday night from 5- 6 p.m. in Illinois. Tickets were selling at a rate of $23,000 per minute, or $1.4 million for the hour. From October 2 to December 17 (the period of time that the jackpot rolled) the lottery recorded $54 million in Mega Millions sales, including Megaplier sales.

Throughout Illinois, people flocked to more than 8,200 lottery retailers to purchase Mega Millions tickets. In addition, during the course of the jackpot run, some $1.5 million in Mega Millions sales were made through the Lottery's website portal,

The two tickets winning the big $636 million jackpot tickets were sold in California and Georgia, lottery officials said Wednesday. It is the second-largest lottery prize in U.S. history.

The lucky Georgia ticket was sold at a Gateway Newsstand in Atlanta's affluent Buckhead area, Mega Millions Executive Director Paula Otto said.

Newsstand owner Young Soolee grinned as she arrived Wednesday morning at the shop off the lobby of the Alliance Center office building. The newsstand - a small, long shop with one register that can hold perhaps 10 people at a time - is frequented by workers at the office building, which sits across the street from an upscale mall.

"I'm so excited and so happy now," Soolee said. "I love my store and the customer now."

Buckhead is a financial center of Atlanta and one of its largest neighborhoods, a vast northern area known for upscale shopping centers such as Lenox Square and Phipps Plaza, both a short walk from the store that sold the winning ticket. The Alliance Center is home to a variety of offices - lawyers and financial services professionals, even the Brazilian Consulate General.

The California ticket was sold at Jennifer's Gift Shop, which sits along San Jose's tree-lined Tully Road, amid a cluster of Asian restaurants. The store's owner, Thuy Nguyen, told KNTV he doesn't know who the bought the winning ticket, but it's likely someone he knows - most of his customers are his friends. "I feel good! I don't even know, I can't sleep tonight," Nguyen told the station.

The jackpot was the second-largest lottery prize in U.S. history. It started its ascent Oct. 4. Twenty-two draws came and went without winners, Otto said.

Otto said $336 million in tickets were sold for Tuesday's drawing - they had projected $319 million.

"Sales were a little better than we'd anticipated," Otto said. "It was a fun run; it was our first holiday run for either of the big jackpot games."

The winners can choose to be paid over time or in a cash lump sum, Otto said. Based on the $636 million figure, the winners would receive $318 million each over time or $170 million each in cash.

Mega Millions changed its rules in October to help increase the jackpots by lowering the odds of winning the top prize. That means the chances of winning the jackpot are now about 1 in 259 million. It used to be about 1 in 176 million, nearly the same odds of winning a Powerball jackpot.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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