CHICAGO (AP) - Maryland lottery officials announced early Saturday that their state sold what could become the world's largest lottery payout of all-time, but it wasn't immediately clear if that ticket holder would get sole possession of the $640 million jackpot or have to split it with other winners.
Carole Everett, director of communications for the Maryland Lottery, said the winning Mega Millions ticket was purchased at a retailer in Baltimore County. She said it's too early to know any other information about the lucky ticket holder or whether others were sold elsewhere in the nation.
The winning numbers were 02-04-23-38-46, and the Mega Ball 23.
National lottery officials were expecting to list early Saturday on their website how many winning tickets were sold and from what states, but Maryland sent out its news release and called media organizations hours before the scheduled announcement. The headline of its news release said the winning sale was "one of several nationwide," but Everett told The Associated Press she couldn't immediately confirm any others.
Everett 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."
Associated Press Writers Carrie Antlfinger in Milwaukee, Jamie Stengle in Dallas and Kate Brumback in Atlanta contributed to this report.