Finally, finally, our time of great suspense is over. All three of the lucky Mega Millions winners (groups or individuals) have come forward to claim their prizes. As luck would have it (for them, if not for us), the winners in Maryland and Kansas are allowed to remain anonymous to the public. Illinois, where the remaining winners reside—they're a married couple from the town of Red Bud, population 3,700—requires winners to reveal their identities, however. What are their names? Merle Butler, 65, and his wife Patricia, 62. What do we know about them? According to the Huffington Post, "Merle Butler said that he and his wife stayed up all night when they learned they held a winning ticket. The following day they placed the ticket in a lock-box at the local bank."
Ready for more adorable? Via ABC:
"I thought, 'I might win something," Merle Butler said at the news conference. "The further I went, the more they matched. After I looked at it for a couple minutes, I turned to my wife and said, 'We won.'"
"She kind of looked at me funny and I said, 'No, we won.' And then she started giggling," Merle Butler said with a laugh. "She giggled for about four hours."
Thank goodness we finally got some personalities, here, else these Mega Millions shenanigans would have been a completely worthless endeavor. As The St. Louis Post-Dispatch (via Saukvalley.com), covering the local news of Red Bud put it, "People here are tired of the rumors. They just want to know who won." Us, too.
Behind the scenes in the small town, all of this mystery leading up to Wednesday's announcement has caused a lot of drama, per the Post-Dispatch's Nicholas J.C. Pistor:
The suspense has built in classic small-town ways. Neighbors have questioned neighbors. Retailers have watched for unusually big purchases. Speculation with no apparent origin has spread through residents like a case of the flu.
“It’s been a frenzy,” said Jeremy Walker, a lawyer in Red Bud. “One person had the New York Post and People Magazine knocking on their door asking if they won. It’s always great to see your town in the news for something good, and it has been exciting, but we’ll be glad when it’s over.”
Now the next stage of Lotto-suspense begins. According to ABC7, the Butlers, retired analysts, "chose to accept the prize as a lump-sum payment of $158 million after taxes." How will they spend their money?