Mega Millions winners revealed in Red Bud

Belleville News DemocratApril 18, 2012 

RED BUD — And the winners are...Merle and Patricia Butler, lifelong Red Bud, Illinois residents.

Merle Butler just bought one $3 quick pick from the MotoMart in Red Bud. "We're big spenders," Patricia Butler said.

He put it in his billfold and waited for the 10 p.m. news on March 30. He saw the numbers, noticed that the first few numbers matched, then realized he had a lot of numbers that matched.

“I turned to my wife and said, ‘We won.’ She kind of looked at me funny and I said, ‘No, we won,’ and she started giggling,” he said. “She giggled for about four hours, I think.”

Early the next morning he took the ticket to his bank and put it in his safety deposit box. He said there were only four people around and they started kidding him that he was putting away his winning lottery ticket.

“I would laugh and say, ‘Yeah, I won it,’” Merle Butler said.

The couple have talked with lawyers and financial advisers and have yet to decide what to do with their new fortune. They said they will continue to live in Red Bud, though.

Merle Butler, 65, is retired from working with computers at General American Life Insurance Co. He said what he’s been doing the past few weeks has felt like a full-time job. Patricia Butler, 62, is retired from working as a program analyst for Edward Jones. The couple chose not to divulge too many personal details, but did confirm that they have children and grandchildren.

While the couple won $218.6 million, taxes will whittle that down to a mere $158 million, said Illinois Lottery Supervisor Michael Jones.

The Illinois Lottery revealed the third winner of the March 30 drawing during a news conference at 10 a.m. Wednesday at the village hall in Red Bud. After the announcement, the lottery threw a party with a D.J. and fed more than 100 local folks with hot dogs and barbecue.

Red Bud is a 3,700-resident farming community about 20 miles south of Belleville and 36 miles southeast of St. Louis.

The other two winning tickets already have been anonymously claimed in Maryland and Kansas, with each stake worth $218.6 million.

Belleville-based MotoMart earned $500,000 for selling the winning ticket, with $50,000 going to employees at the Red Bud store.

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