Retired Illinois couple share $656M lottery jackpot

Apr 18, 2012, 11:57 am (78 comments)

Mega Millions

By Todd Northrop

Updated 6:24 pm:  Prize payout information

A retired computer systems designer and his wife, a computer programmer, have claimed the final share of the March 30 $656 million Mega Millions lottery drawing.

Merle, 65, and Pat Butler, 62, claimed the jackpot at the Red Bud Village Hall in the small southern Illinois town of Red Bud.  The winning ticket was sold at a nearby Motomart in the town of 6,000 people.

Their share of the record-setting $656 million jackpot was $218.6 million, before taxes.

The lucky couple from Red Bud decided to receive their payout as a lump-sum cash payment, which came to $158 million before taxes of 25% federal and 5% state were withheld.  Their net payout after tax withholding was approximately $110.6 million.

The Butlers' prize represents one-third of the record Mega Millions jackpot drawn on March 30.  The winners of two other tickets — one in Maryland and one in Kansas — have already been paid, but the winners preferred to remain anonymous.

Lottery rules in Illinois, however, require the winner to be named — and to appear at a one-time news conference — to assure other players that prizes are indeed paid out.

Butler describes managing the money as a full-time job right now, and laughs: "I'm not looking for sympathy," adding, "There could possibly be a vacation."

When one reporter asked Merle if they were going to move from Red Bud, he looked puzzled and said, "We really enjoy living here. We've lived here a long time."

Scores of local residents were on hand at City Hall for the ceremonies, the Chicago Tribune reports, and sent up a loud cheer outside when the winner was announced.

The couple bought a $3 quick-pick ticket at the MotoMart convenience store in Red Bud, which is about 40 miles southeast of St. Louis.

"We've been thinking of ways we can invest it," Butler says.

Butler says the couple has a "real good set of financial advisors," and waited three weeks to step forward in order to get their plans in order first.

The winners spent a sleepless night checking how many other winning tickets they'd be sharing the prize with.  "We spent the rest of the night going down to our computer to check the news and see how many winners there were," he says.

Merel Butler, a retiree, says he was watching TV when he heard the result of the drawing. He checked each number, then told his wife, Pat, "We won."

"She kind of looked at me funny, and I said, 'no we won,' and she started giggling," he says. "She giggled for abour 4 hours, I think" he says.

News story photo(Click to display full-size in gallery)

News story photo(Click to display full-size in gallery)

Lottery Post Staff


dk1421's avatardk1421

Congrats to them!!!

Sounds like they have their stuff in order. I feel badly they couldn't choose to be anonymous. Yet, I wish they could have said something along those lines at the press conference.

I hope they don't become the poster-children for why all states should allow anonymity! I always worry about what has to happen for all states to wake up to the dangers of not allowing people to claim large jackpots anonymously. It should be an option - especially for large jackpots!


These sound like a couple of real nice people.  Hopefully they don't get too many townspeople and relatives begging for money.  They seem like down to earth people.....

dpoly1's avatardpoly1

Congrats to the winners!

Hurray for the "old"!



That's cute, they really think they are going to be able to stay in that little town and everything is just going to go on being the same. We all know better. They will have moved out within two to six months.


Congrats to the winners. Unhappy Good thing that an old couple not some young 20 yr won it.

LottoGuyBC's avatarLottoGuyBC

Quick Pick again Thud

Cletu$2's avatarCletu$2

Congratulations to Merle and Pat!Enjoy your millions.



Jill34786's avatarJill34786

"After taxes on a lump-sum payment of $218.6 million, the Butlers will take home $158 million"


Actually the lump-sum cash payment is $158 million and the take home after 25% federal and 5% state taxes are witheld is just a tad over $110 million.

This couple may have enjoyed living in this small town but all that will soon change Unhappy

Littleoldlady's avatarLittleoldlady

Quote: Originally posted by sendmedamoney on Apr 18, 2012


They're not old, they are experienced!  With modern medicine doing it's thing, they can live to be at least 100.


Quote: Originally posted by Littleoldlady on Apr 18, 2012

They're not old, they are experienced!  With modern medicine doing it's thing, they can live to be at least 100.

I agree 100%


Look at how long Royalty thrives!

dallascowboyfan's avatardallascowboyfan

Congrats to Mr & Mrs. Butler.....Hurray!


 By today's standards, this is a young couple. Why should they let all the gloom and doom naysayers influence their staying in Red Bud?

They should park their ass's right where they are now. This will piss off all the pro anonymous people. They'll get over it!  LOL

golfer1960's avatargolfer1960

Good for them but sad for me. Come on Powerball!

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