A certain set of winning Mega Millions numbers gave husband and wife team Merle and Patricia Butler the giggles for four hours. The reason? They had just won over $110 million on the Illinois Mega Millions lottery, a third share of the Mega Millions jackpot for April 18th draw in 2012. They laughed a lot, particularly Patricia who simply couldn’t believe their good fortune.
SMALL TOWN MEGA MILLIONS
The Illinois couple, who had lived in the town of Red Bud all their lives, won the Mega Millions lottery draw after buying a quickpick ticket. 65 year old Vietnam vet Merle thought they might win something when the Mega Ball number came up for them. He wasn’t entirely prepared to find that his numbers matched the winning Mega Millions numbers in the draw.
Patricia didn’t believe her husband at first when he said that they were lottery winners but then she started giggling and didn’t quit for quite a few hours.
They stayed up most of the night, trying to find out if they would be sharing the Illinois Mega Millions lottery prize with anyone else. By the time it got to the early hours, they were aware that there were two other winners but it still netted them a cool $157 million before tax for their Mega Millions jackpot. That’s a life changing amount of money in anyone’s book.
Merle and Patricia initially kept news of their Illinois Mega Millions lottery windfall between close families and friends but when the story broke that one of the winners lived in the town of Red Bud, the gossip train began to get to work in the only way that it can in a small community. In truth, when people asked Merle if he was the one who had netted the jackpot, he told them he had. Most of them, however, didn’t believe him.
That was fine with Merle and Patricia. They didn’t want too much attention, as after all they were still in shock that they had the winning Mega Millions numbers.
TAKING ADVICE WITH ALL THAT MONEY
Merle and Patricia were coy about what they were going to do with all that money once their identities were revealed, stating only that they were employing a team of financial experts to help them out with their Mega Millions jackpot. Illinois legally requires lottery winners to be named and to publically accept their prize so there was no way that the couple could remain anonymous if they wanted the money.
Former computer analyst Merle did divulge that there might be a long vacation on the cards further down the line but that for the moment they were working on keeping the Illinois Mega Millions lottery money well invested and safe.
Both Merle and Patricia saw themselves as ordinary folk who had worked hard all their lives and paid their taxes. Lottery Superintendent Mike Jones said it was something worthy of a Hollywood script with the Butler’s small town background and the sudden rise to riches thanks to the Mega Millions jackpot.
The convenience store that sold Merle the $3 ticket also got a bonus of $500,000 and town Mayor Tim Lowry, who had known Merle since they were children, said that everyone was thrilled for the couple.
WHAT HAPPENED NEXT?
News filtered out late in 2013 that the Mega Millions winners from Illinois had purchased a $7.5 million home in Sarasota, South West Florida, the largest price ever paid in the area for a property.
They have also set up a charitable foundation for philanthropic acts based in their home town of Red Bud, perhaps confirming that the couple took some sound financial advice and kept level heads after their Mega Millions jackpot win.