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Kansas, Illinois and Maryland Tickets Share Lottery Jackpot

Lottery ticket-holders in Kansas, Illinois and Maryland each selected the winning numbers and will split a $640 million jackpot that was believed to be the world's largest such prize, a lottery official said Saturday.

Mike Lang, spokesman for the Illinois Lottery, said his state's winning ticket was sold in the small town of Red Bud, near St. Louis. The winner used a quick pick to select the numbers, he said.

The Maryland Lottery announced earlier Saturday that it had sold a winning ticket at a retail store in Baltimore County. No details were immediately available about the Kansas ticket.

Lang said each winning ticket was expected to be worth more than $213 million before taxes.

The winning numbers in Friday night's drawing were 02-04-23-38-46, and the Mega Ball 23.

Carole Everett, director of communications for the Maryland Lottery, said the last time a ticket from the state won a major national jackpot was 2008 when a ticket sold for $24 million.

"We're thrilled," she said. "We're due and excited."

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.

Americans spent nearly $1.5 billion for a chance to hit the jackpot, which amounts to a $462 million lump sum and around $347 million after federal tax withholding. With the jackpot odds at 1 in 176 million, it would cost $176 million to buy up every combination. Under that scenario, the strategy would win $171 million less if your state also withholds taxes.

From coast to coast, people stood in line at retail stores Friday for one last chance at striking it rich.

Maribeth Ptak, 31, of Milwaukee, only buys Mega Millions when the jackpot is really big and she bought one on Friday at a Milwaukee grocery store. She said she'd use the money to pay off bills, including school loans, and then she'd donate a good portion to charity.

"I know the odds are really not in my favor, but why not," she said.

Sawnya Castro, 31, of Dallas, bought $50 worth of tickets at a 7-Eleven. She figured she'd use the money to create a rescue society for Great Danes, fix up her grandmother's house, and perhaps even buy a bigger one for herself.

"Not too big - I don't want that. Too much house to keep with," she said.

Willie Richards, who works for the U.S. Marshals Service at a federal courthouse in Atlanta, figured if there ever was a time to confront astronomical odds, it was when $640 million was at stake. He bought five tickets.

"When it gets as big as it is now, you'd be nuts not to play," he said. "You have to take a chance on Lady Luck."

(Copyright 2012 by WITN & The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


Previous Story

Friday's Mega Millions jackpot was a world record at $640 million. The winning numbers are 46, 23, 38, 4, 2 and the mega ball is 23.

The odds of winning the jackpot had been set at about 1 in 176 million.

Mega Millions has drawn long lines of lottery players in stores in the 42 states plus Washington, D.C., and the Virgin Islands where tickets are sold. The world-record jackpot has also lured some residents to travel to other states to buy $1 tickets.

(Copyright 2012 by WITN & The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


Previous Story

The multistate Mega Millions lottery jackpot that is set to reach a world-record $640 million has people lining up at convenience stores in the 42 states and Washington, D.C., where the tickets are sold.

But the odds of winning, experts say, are longer than long.

Mike Catalano, chairman of the mathematics department at Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell, S.D., discourages lottery play because of the low odds of winning -- 1 in 176 million.

He concedes the more tickets you buy, the better your chances of winning.

But he says a player is about 50 times more likely to be struck by lightning than to win the jackpot. Of course, he says, if you buy 50 tickets, "you've equalized your chances of winning the jackpot with getting struck by lightning."

You can see the drawing live tonight at 11:00 p.m. on WITN-TV.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


Previous Story

The Mega Millions jackpot is now the largest in U.S. lottery history.

Georgia Lottery officials say the jackpot reached $540 million on Thursday. It has rolled 18 times since Marcia Adams of College Park won $72 million in the Jan. 24 drawing.

A winner could get $19.2 million a year for 26 years or a single payment worth $359 million. The next drawing is Friday at 11 p.m. and you can see it live on WITN.

Previously, the largest jackpot was $390 million, won by two players in Georgia and New Jersey in March 2007.

With the half-billion-dollar jackpot up for grabs, plenty of folks are fantasizing about how to spend the money. But doing it the right way - protecting your riches, your identity and your sanity - takes some thought and planning. So, some advice is in order before the Mega Millions drawing Friday, especially if you're really, really lucky.

Q: What do I do with the ticket?

A: Before anything else, sign the back. That will stop anyone else from claiming your riches if you happen to drop it while you're jumping up and down. Then make a photocopy and lock that in a safe. At the very least, keep it where you know it's protected. A Rhode Island woman who won a $336 million Powerball jackpot hid the ticket in her Bible before going out to breakfast.

Q: What next?

A: Relax and take time to think about your next move. Don't do anything you'll regret for the next 30 years. It doesn't take long to be overwhelmed by long-lost friends, charities and churches wanting to share your good fortune. You've waited a lifetime to hit the jackpot; you can wait a few days before going on a spending spree.

Q: Whom should I tell first?

A: Contacting a lawyer and a financial planner would be a lot wiser than updating your Facebook status. Make sure it's someone you can trust and, it's hoped, someone you have dealt with before. If you don't have anyone in mind, ask a close family member or friend. Oklahoma City attorney Richard Craig, whose firm has represented a handful of lottery winners, says it's essential to assemble a team of financial managers, tax experts, accountants and bankers.

Q: Remind me, how much did I win?

A: As it stands now, Mega Millions will pay out a lump sum of $359 million before taxes. Annual payments over 26 years will amount to just over $19 million before taxes.

Q: How much will I be taxed?

A: This partly depends on where you live. Federal tax is 25 percent; then there's your state income tax. In Ohio, for example, that's another 6 percent. And you might need to pay a city tax depending on the local tax rules. So count on about a third of your winnings going to the government.

Q: Should I take the cash payout or annual payments?

A: This is the big question, and most people think taking the lump sum is the smart move. That's not always the case. First, spreading the payments out protects you from becoming the latest lottery winner who's lost all their money.

Don McNay, author of the book "Son of a Son of a Gambler: Winners, Losers and What to Do When You Win the Lottery," says nine out of 10 winners go through their money in five years or less. "Nobody is around them putting the brakes on the situation," he says.

Q: But what if I'm good at managing money?

A: Invested properly, the lump-sum option can be a good choice. There's more planning that you can use to reduce estate taxes and other financial incentives. Others contend that with annual payments, you are taxed on the money only as it comes in, putting you in a lower tax bracket rather than taking a big hit in getting a lump sum. And you still can shelter the money in tax-free investments and take advantage of tax-law changes over the years.

Q: Should I try to shield my identity?

A: Absolutely. This will protect you from people who want you to invest in their business scheme or those who need cash in an emergency. Lottery winners are besieged by dozens of people and charities looking for help. "There are people who do that for a living. Unless you understand that, you can become a victim very quickly," says Steve Thornton, a Bowling Green, Ky., attorney who has represented two jackpot winners.

Q: How can I protect myself?

A: Again, it somewhat depends on where you live. In some states, you can form a trust to manage the money and keep your winnings secret. In others, you can form a trust but still be discovered through public records. And a few states require you to show up and receive your oversized check in front of a bunch of cameras, making it impossible to stay anonymous.

Thornton set up a corporation in the late 1990s to protect the identity of a client in Kentucky who won $11 million.

"No one had done this before, and there were legal questions about whether a corporation can win," he says. "We were able to hide their names."

Q: Is it OK to splurge a bit?

A: Sure, it's why you bought a ticket, right?

"Get it out of your system, but don't go overboard," McNay says. But remember that if there's a new Mercedes-Benz in the driveway, your neighbors will probably be able to figure out who won the jackpot.

Q: How much should I help my family and others?

A: It's certainly a natural desire to help relatives in need and to take care of future generations. But use extreme caution when giving out your money. Jack Whittaker, a West Virginia contractor who won a nearly $315 million Powerball jackpot in 2002, quickly fell victim to scandals, lawsuits and personal setbacks. His foundation spent $23 million building two churches, and he's been involved in hundreds of legal actions.

"If you win, just don't give any money away, because the more money you give away, the more they want you to give," he said.


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