The millions of jackpot hopefuls who fantasized about the adventurous trips they would take, the luxury cars they would buy, and the family and friends they would help with their Mega Millions winnings have only one thing to imagine now - the faces of the people who will be splitting the $656 million prize, none of whom by Sunday had come forward.
A Baltimore County convenience store sold one of the three winning tickets for Friday's world-record jackpot, and a state law allowing the winner or winners to remain anonymous could mean locals will never know who bought the lucky ticket at 7:15 p.m. Friday.
Hordes of television crews and nosey neighbors invaded the 7-Eleven on Liberty Road in Milford Mill, eager to meet the winner, who will split the money with two others in Red Bud, Ill., and northeastern Kansas.
The store's management team, as well as the winner, remained mum.
Standing outside of the store, Maryland Lottery Director Stephen Martino told reporters that he would advise the winner to first sign the back of the ticket and then seek legal and financial advice.
"This is a play where there were multiple touchdowns that were scored," Mr. Martino said. "We're going to spike the ball for Maryland, and we're going to let the other states and other lotteries come forward when they're prepared to talk about the winning tickets."
The jackpot - which requires a player to match all six numbers - had been building since late January, and it almost doubled the second-largest Mega Millions cash payout of $240 million in 2011.
Friday's winning numbers were: 2-4-23-38-46 and the Mega Ball was 23. If the winners all opt for the cash payout, they will split $462 million.
Officials estimated about 100 million people lost out on the Mega Millions jackpot. There were, however, nine tickets sold in Virginia and Maryland that netted $250,000 for lucky lottery players, and a little commission for the sellers.
While the winning 7-Eleven routed calls to voicemail Sunday, Chuck Link, manager of Redner's Warehouse Markets in Bel Air, Md., was happy to talk about the sale of a $250,000 winning ticket.
"It was very exciting," Mr. Link said. "We were contacted by the lottery, and we thought it might have been a prank phone call. But they actually showed up."
He said he did not yet know who the winner was, but he hoped it was a regular customer.
"We might never know, but hopefully that person will stop in," Mr. Link said.
Three other Maryland locations sold tickets worth $250,000 in Boonsboro, Timonium and another Baltimore-area 7-Eleven.
As congratulations and questions could be heard in the background of a phone call, Zouhir Safar, owner of Eleis Discount Tobacco Co. and Grocery in Vinton, Va., said he was excited to have sold one of the five $250,000 tickets in the state to a regular customer.
The man seemed "very happy, very excited," Mr. Safar said. "We've had 10-grand winners before, but to win a quarter of a million dollars? That's awesome."
Ticket sellers in Virginia Beach, Richmond, North Tazewell and Fredericksburg also sold $250,000 winners in Virginia.
For those hoping to try their luck again, the next Mega Millions drawing is Tuesday for a measly $12 million jackpot.
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