The holders of two lucky tickets purchased states apart awoke to good news Wednesday: They will split a Mega Millions jackpot of $414 million, the third-largest prize in the game's history.
The tickets — one sold at a Sunoco convenience store on Florida's Space Coast, the other at a Maryland liquor store southeast of Washington — matched all six winning numbers in the Tuesday night drawing: 11, 19, 24, 33 and 51 with a Mega Ball of 7.
The full $414 million jackpot has a cash option of $230.9 million. Maryland lotto officials estimate that if its winner takes the cash option, he or she will take home about $76.4 million after taxes.
Outside the Merritt Island service station, just south of Cape Canaveral, three television news vans lingered midmorning Wednesday.
David Dodge, 63, was taken aback by the activity. He lives a few blocks away and said he drops in "almost every day" to buy cigars, or candy and snacks for one of his five grandchildren.
Dodge said he stopped buying lottery tickets regularly a few years ago but still does it every now and then — and he wishes he would have had that itch Tuesday.
"Of course I do — everybody does," he said. "But money is not what my life is all about right now. I pretty much have everything I have. I'm disabled and I can't work. But I have grandchildren and my family, and that's what it's all about."
Fellow Merritt Island resident Ron Manuel, 68, walked out of the store Wednesday after purchasing a $2 Florida Lottery ticket. He said he wonders if the winner is a neighbor or someone else he knows.
"It's a residential area," Manuel said. "I'm sure it's someone who frequents the story regularly.
"I'm just glad it wasn't somebody in California," he added. "They've got the last couple of big winners. When it gets to be big money, California seems to win it."
The Florida winner — the state's first in the Mega Millions game — has 180 days to claim the prize at state lotto headquarters in Tallahassee, and his or her name and city of residence will be released.
The Maryland winner bought the ticket at Lady's Liquor in La Plata, a town of nearly 9,000 about 30 miles from the nation's capital. The winner — who has 182 days to claim the prize but can choose to remain anonymous — picked the numbers manually, rather than through a machine's random selection, Maryland Lottery Director Stephen Martino said.
"Those numbers probably mean something to that winner," he said. He advised the holder to sign the back of the ticket and consult an attorney.
Jay Jhala, owner and manager of Lady's Liquor, said he didn't know when the winning ticket was sold or to whom. He said he was excited, though, to have sold a ticket to a new millionaire.
"This is a first ever," he said. The store has sold winning tickets before, "but never this big."
Both retailers receive commissions of $100,000 for selling the winning tickets, lottery officials said.
Mega Millions changed its rules in October to help increase jackpots. The game is played in 43 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
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