A mystery finally solved in Red Bud, Illinois. Lotto officials announce a Red Bud couple is one of the record breaking Mega Millions lotto winners. Retired 65-year-old Merle and 62-year-old and his wife Patricia Butler have come forward to claim their $157.8 million prize. There has been a lot of excitement in Red Bud since the winning ticket was sold on on March 30th.
The prize was claimed in Merle's name and the couple opted for the one time payment instead of the 218.6 million in 26 separate installments.After taxes they will have a prize worth $110,517,449.00. The largest payment ever made to an individual by the state of Illinois.
There were two additional winners besides the one in Red Bud. Those winners have already come forward but they have been allowed to remain anonymous. In Illinois, lottery winners must come forward publicly.
Merle found out he won when watching TV on March 30th. The winning numbers 02, 04 , 23, 38, 46 and 23 were announced and he jotted them on an envelope of an old Christmas card. Later that night he compared the numbers on his ticket to the envelope. They were the same. He calmly told his wife, "We won".
The Butlers knew their lives would never be the same again. They stayed up all night checking and re-checking that those were the winning numbers. When it was announced that the winning ticket was sold at the Red Bud Moto Mart they knew for sure that they had won the jackpot.
They deposited the ticket in a safety deposit box at the First Bank of Red Bud the next day. The teller at the bank joked with them asking if the Butlers had won the jackpot. Merle jokingly told the teller, "That's right. We've got the winner."
The following week the Butlers contacted an attorney in St. Louis to arrange for their one time payment. Then on Friday April 13th two met with lottery employees from Springfield, IL. The employees verified the ticket and on Wednesday the Butlers claimed their over sized check in a press conference attended by the media.
Here's the full press conference with the Red Bud, IL. Mega Millions Lotto winners: