Couple claims final share of record-breaking US lotto win
A couple from Illinois stepped into the spotlight as the final winners in the country's largest ever lottery jackpot, saying they kept their identities secret until they could figure out what they were going to do with all the money.
Merle and Patricia Butler on Wednesday claimed their share - about 218 million dollars before taxes - of the 656-million-dollar sum at stake in the March 30 Mega Millions lottery.
The other winners chose to remain anonymous, which they could do under the state laws of Kansas and Maryland, where three public school employees calling themselves the "Three Amigos" also took part of the pot.
The Butlers turned in their ticket Wednesday and were required to reveal their identity to the public under Illinois law.
"This is a full-time job," Merle Butler said of managing the money.
He said he and his wife kept their changed fortunes under their hats by insisting they had won, which employed reverse psychology to make their friends in the small town of Red Bud only laugh. Lottery organizers had identified Red Bud outside St Louis as the town where the winning ticket was sold, making the guessing game all the more tantalizing in such a small community.
"People kept asking me if I won it," Merle Butler said. "Most of all, I laughed it off and said, 'Yeah, sure, I won it.'"
When he told his wife he did indeed have the winning ticket, she did not believe him at first either, then just started giggling "and she giggled for about four hours," he said.
The retirees put the ticket in a bank lock box, then engaged a team of financial advisers and lawyers to plan how to use the money.
Merle Butler, 65, is a Vietnam veteran and former computer systems analyst. He said he and his wife, who last worked in the information-technology department of an investment firm, would invest the money and use it to help their family.Author: Pat Reber