The largest lottery jackpot in history had a mystery winner for two-and-a-half weeks until retired Illinois couple, Pat and Merle Butler, came forward with the winning ticket. The couple from the tiny town of Red Bud was the last of three winners to come forward in the Mega Millions Jackpot.
What kind of people are the Butlers? According to Merle, who retired eight years ago from a life insurance company where he had worked as a computer analyst, they are just regular folks. He says they spent their lives working, loving their family and their city, paying taxes and doing their best to keep up with the maintenance on their home. In his statement, he said they just happened to “hit it big in the lottery.” That may be an understatement.
The night the numbers were drawn, Merle checked his ticket. Realizing he had matched the MegaBall number, he knew he’d won something. As he reviewed the other five numbers, he saw that each number matched. It took him several minutes to digest the reality of the situation and tell his wife, Pat, 62, retired five years ago from the IT department of Edward Jones.
Merle told Pat they’d won and her immediate reaction was a puzzled expression. When he repeated it, she began to giggle and didn’t stop for nearly four hours. Since then, the couple investigated how to best invest the money with several financial advisors. Their share comes to about $158 million before taxes as they chose a lump sum dispersal. Pat and Merle have no plans on how they will spend any of their prize money.
As for the town of Red Bud, with a population of nearly 3,700, the winning lottery ticket has put them on the map. The ticket was sold at the local Moto Mart in town where store manager, Denise Metzger has been interviewed by news agencies from as far away as Japan and England.
Two other winners will also get a share in the jackpot but unlike Illinois, which requires winners to be publicly named, they have chosen to remain anonymous.