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Dublin: 11 °C Monday 22 December, 2014

World’s luckiest lottery winners share $640 million jackpot

Three people in Maryland, Kansas and Illinois have winning tickets for the Mega Millions jackpot – the biggest lottery prize ever.

It is estimated that Americans spent over $1.5 billion on tickets for last night's Mega Millions jackpot, the largest in the history of any lottery in the world.
It is estimated that Americans spent over $1.5 billion on tickets for last night's Mega Millions jackpot, the largest in the history of any lottery in the world.
Image: Gregory Bull/AP

Updated, 13.15

THREE LUCKY PUNTERS have shared the main prize in the most lucrative lottery of all time.

Three winners, in Maryland, Kansas and Illinois, have been confirmed as holding a winning ticket for last night’s Mega Millions lottery, a multi-state game which runs in most of the United States.

Last night’s jackpot – of $640 million (€480 million) – was the largest in the history of the game, dwarfing the previous record of $390 million set in 2007 when it was split by two winners.

The winning numbers were 2, 4, 23, 38 and 46, with the Mega Ball of 23. The draw involves drawing five numbers from 56, with the Mega Ball being a single number out of 46.

Those combinations mean the odds of winning the lottery are 175,711,536-to-1 – making it over 21 times more difficult to win than the National Lottery in Ireland.

Curiously, the high jackpot – which has kept growing over the last 14 months, as nobody has won it since January 2011, despite there being two draws each week – actually means players could have bought 175 million tickets, priced at $1 each, and virtually guaranteed a profit.

Even with the jackpot had been split several ways, prices won by watching a smaller number of tickets would have meant that a profit was locked in – provided, of course, someone had the time and money to buy almost 176 million individual tickets.

Original estimates indicated that around $1.5 billion had been spent on the lottery, seeing the jackpot surge from original estimates of just under $400 million. Only yesterday it had been estimated that the jackpot would reach $540 million.

With earlier question marks about the number of winners now resolved – Maryland had claimed their winner before the other two states announced their own – the lucky ticket-holders now have other decisions on their minds: whether to take their jackpot in one large cash payment, or to spread it out over 26 annual instalments.

If taking their prize in a lump sum, the jackpot is diminished to $154 million (€115.5 million), in order to account for the expected rate of inflation which would bring it back to $213 million over the next 25 years.

The lump sum would diminish to $116 million after federal taxes, and may also be liable to state taxes.

Additional reporting by AP

Previously: US woman sues for distress over incorrect Lotto result >

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