The third and final winner of the Mega Millions record $656 jackpot has finally come forward to claim the share of the prize in Illinois. Merle Butler and his wife Patricia were named the winners at a press conference held by the Illinois lottery in Red Bud.
The couple will receive $218.6 million, but have not said what they will do with the money. At these early stages they are planning to invest it while they consult advisers and lawyers.
The Butlers found out they had won on the night of the lottery draw, but decided to place the ticket in a lock-box at a bank before coming forward.
I thought, 'I might win something, Merle Butler said at the news conference. The further I went, the more they matched. After I looked at it for a couple minutes, I turned to my wife and said, 'We won.She kind of looked at me funny and I said, 'No, we won.' And then she started giggling, Merle Butler said with a laugh. She giggled for about four hours.
The couple was required by state law to come forward with their identity and reveal to the public that the money was rewarded.
The Illinois announcement has put an end to the Mega Millions frenzy driven by the record-breaking jackpot. The other two winning ticket holders came forward in Maryland and Kansas but their identities have been kept anonymous.
It has taken a while for all three winners to come forward, which gave room to scams. Mirlande Wilson, a self-proclaimed winner of the lottery in Maryland, stirred a Mega Millions mess when she said she had the ticket, but later mis-placed it.
She was the first to come forward after the winning numbers were revealed. In a confusing turn of events, the 37-year-old mother of seven said she played as a part of a work pool at McDonald's but the winning ticket she claims to hold was purchased independently, according to her report.
She originally claimed that she hid her winning ticket in the McDonald's where she worked, but later said she had misplaced it. When the real winner of the ticket came forward, Wilson kept quiet.