By Todd Northrop
TOPEKA, Kansas — The holder of one of three winning tickets in last week's record $656 million Mega Millions drawing came forward Friday to claim a share, Kansas Lottery officials announced Friday afternoon.
The winner — a single ticket holder — has chosen to remain anonymous, state lottery director Dennis Wilson said.
The announcement was made at an afternoon press conference at state lottery headquarters in Topeka.
Under Kansas law, lottery winners can choose not to publicly reveal their identities. The winner has retained legal counsel and financial advisers and "looks forward to retiring," Wilson said.
Kansas was one of three states where three tickets matched the winning numbers — 2, 4, 23, 38, and 46, with Mega Ball number 23 — amounting to an equal share of roughly $218.6 million, before taxes, under the annuity option. The Kansas lottery player purchased the winning ticket at a Casey's convenience store in Ottawa.
The winner has chosen to take a one-time lump-sum payment of about $157 million before taxes.
"It'll take a few days for us to transfer the money to their account. It was a single ticket holder — one person claimed the ticket," Wilson said.
"They were still just in awe that they had won it," Wilson said of the winner, who didn't know the ticket was a winner until Monday.
"They checked it over 10 times ... and still had a hard time believing it," Wilson said.
As for choosing to remain anonymous, Wilson said the winner obviously doesn't want the publicity. "We all have to understand that these kind of winners need time to digest. They were still in awe that they had won it," Wilson said.
"They're like all of us. They think about the possibility of winning but they never think that it would hapen to them — but it did. It proves real people really win — and you could be next.
Two other winning tickets were purchased in Maryland and Illinois.
The Kansas winner is the first to officially come forward, just a week after the winning numbers were picked.
Meanwhile, Maryland lottery officials have been responding to a flurry of questions from the media this week after a Baltimore-area woman told the New York Post that she had one of the winning tickets. However, in a bizarre twist of the story, Mirlande Wilson, a 37-year-old single mother of seven who works at McDonald's, told the Post on Friday that she isn't sure where she last had the ticket.
"I'm still looking for it. I haven't even looked in my uniform pants yet," the Post quoted Wilson as saying. "I'm still looking everywhere to find it, in my purse, everywhere."
The state's lottery director said Thursday he hasn't seen the ticket, but he also says no one else has come forward saying he has it.
Carole Everett, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Lottery, said Tuesday she doesn't "put much stock in that story."
"She claims she won," Everett said. "She can't produce a ticket. ... In our opinion, until they walk in that door, hold that ticket, produce valid identification and our security people can process and validate it, it doesn't matter."
If Wilson is determined to be a winner, a showdown could be brewing with her McDonald's co-workers. They are demanding a share because they say they pooled their money to buy several tickets. Wilson has said the ticket she bought was separate from that.
Thanks to B$Rizzle and hearsetrax for the tip.