US & Canada

US lottery: Search on for $640m jackpot winners

The search is on in the US for the winners of the world's biggest ever lottery jackpot - $640m (£400m).

Three tickets have now been announced as sharing the massive prize, with the winners in the states of Maryland, Kansas and Illinois.

Americans spent an estimated $1.5bn to enter the draw for the jackpot, which had reached the record level because no-one had matched the winning numbers since the end of January.

Forty-two states took part in the draw.

The numbers drawn on Friday night were 2, 4, 23, 38, 46, and the Mega Ball was 23.

Mike Lang, a spokesman for the Illinois Lottery, said his state's ticket was sold in the town of Red Bud, near St Louis.

Denise Metzger, manager of the store that sold the ticket, told Associated Press: "It's just unbelievable. Everyone is wanting to know who it is. All day yesterday I was selling tickets and I was hoping someone from Red Bud would win."

Maryland Lottery said its winning ticket was sold in Baltimore County.

Television cameras descended on the 7-Eleven store there that sold the ticket.

Losing punter Jackie Williams said: "It's like a small town. I'll bet I'll know someone who knows the winner."

The Kansas Lottery website said its ticket was bought in the north-east of the state.

The stores that sold the winning tickets are in line for a $100,000 bonus.

Each ticket is expected to earn more than $213m before tax.

The winners can choose between receiving their full allotment in 26 annual payments, or a lower instant cash option.

On Friday, people stood in line at stores throughout the country.

The largest jackpot to be paid out until now was a $390m Mega Millions prize that was split between two winners in 2007.

But the odds are stacked overwhelmingly against any one person matching the six-ball jackpot.

Lottery officials say the chance of winning is just one-in-176 million. Tickets cost $1.

But the tough odds failed to deter one person - Willie Richards, who works for the US Marshals Service at a federal courthouse in Atlanta, bought five tickets.

"When it gets as big as it is now, you'd be nuts not to play," he said. "You have to take a chance on Lady Luck."

The states of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Alaska, Hawaii, Wyoming, Utah and Nevada do not participate in the draw.

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