Mega Millions reports 2 winning tickets in $355 million jackpot |

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Mega Millions reports 2 winning tickets in $355 million jackpot |

Mega Millions reports 2 winning tickets in $355 million jackpot

Published: Wednesday, January 05, 2011, 6:21 AM     Updated: Wednesday, January 05, 2011, 9:33 AM
Cory Morse | The Grand Rapids PressDan Bekins, left, and Dave Castor sell Mega Millions lottery tickets at Party World, 5568 Alpine Ave. NW, Comstock Park on Tuesday night. The store claims to be the luckiest store in Michigan saying they’ve had five major lottery jackpot winners after Bekins found the leaf clover behind the store 24 years ago. The Mega Millions lottery jackpot is up to $355 million. Bekins is the owner and Castor works as the store manager.

GRAND RAPIDS — Two lottery ticket holders are millions of dollars richer today, but they aren’t from this part of the country.

Mega Millions officials said the holders of one ticket sold in Idaho and another in the state of Washington will be sharing the lottery game’s $355 million jackpot.

The winning numbers were 4, 8, 15, 25 and 47, with 42 being the Mega Ball number.

Arizona Lottery spokeswoman Cindy Esquer said the prize is the fourth-largest in U.S. history and the second-largest in Mega Millions history.

The jackpot’s cash option works out to about $224 million. Besides the jackpot, other prizes range from $2 to $250,000.

The princely sum drew huge interest across the country as thousands of people lined up to buy tickets in 41 states, including Michigan, and Washington, D.C., where the game is available.

“We got a pretty good, steady flow of traffic as far as buying the tickets goes,” said Bill Evans, owner of Beaver Dam Service Station in northwest Arizona. “As the day progresses we’ll have a line out the door, I’m sure.”

Hundreds of people poured into the tiny Arizona towns of Littlefield and Beaver Dam, crossing into the state from Nevada and Utah, where Mega Millions tickets are not sold.

Locally, at Party World, 5568 Alpine Ave. NW, co-owner Anna Bekins said a line reached from the counter to the back of the store for parts of the day Tuesday as customers came to try their chance at winning millions.

The store has sold its share of winning tickets, including prizes of $1 million, $300,000 and $100,000 in recent years, Bekins said.

And although the idea sounds crazy to some, Bekins attributes the luck to a four-leaf clover her husband found in the store’s back room shortly after opening 26 years ago. That clover now is taped to the lottery ticket machine, and he makes sure to wipe each customer’s ticket over it before making the sale.

“A lot of people don’t want it wiped even once, but twice. They might even have to touch it themselves,” Bekins said of the clover. “One lady a couple years ago tried to walk out the door with it, but we stopped her.”

Store owners appreciate the increased business large jackpots generate.

“We’re always happy when the jackpot gets high,” Bekins said. “We’re always happy to see a lot of new faces and get new faces in the store.”

For those who are unfamiliar with how it works, the Mega Millions game is similar to Powerball — players try to win by matching five regular numbers plus the “Mega ball.” Tickets cost $1.

Larry White, who bought a ticket in Atlanta, said he would use the money to help his family if he claimed the multimillion dollar prize.

“I’m going to take care of my family — buy them new houses, new cars and travel a little bit,” he said.

Others said they would use the money to start foundations, retire or take vacations.

Sheila Twine, in Atlanta, said she would pay off her and her daughter’s bills and help people in need.

“With all this money, I could help a lot of people,” she said.

The game expanded last year under a cross-selling agreement with Powerball to become available in 41 states and Washington, D.C.

The game’s website was down Tuesday night, around the time that the winning numbers would be posted. Officials stripped the site down to a simple Web page with the logo and the jackpot amount, to help speed connections because of “unprecedented traffic.”

The minimalistic change made it impossible for several hours early this morning to learn anything about whether anyone won the jackpot.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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