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Mega Millions mystery over: Maryland winners all school employees

April 10, 2012|By Rene Lynch
  • The Three Amigos -- the three Maryland school employees who won a share of the record Mega Millions jackpot -- keep their anonymity behind a big check.
The Three Amigos -- the three Maryland school employees who won a share of… (Associated Press / Maryland…)

The Maryland Mega Millions mystery has been solved. Three public school educators stepped forward Monday to cash in their ticket for a share of a record jackpot that topped $656 million.

They wore black gloves and matching red sweatshirts and hid behind one of those giant checks -- preferring to remain anonymous in an attempt to keep at bay all those people who would like to separate the lottery winners from their money.

The trio -- two public school teachers and a school administrator -- have relatively modest plans for their winnings. Each of them will receive a lump sum payment of $35 million after taxes, which will be wired to them over the next few days, reports the Baltimore Sun. The educators' plans include new homes, a college fund for a daughter, investments and a European vacation, Maryland state lottery officials said Tuesday.

Lottery winners in the good state of Maryland are allowed to remain anonymous. But it seems pretty clear that Mirlande Wilson is not among them. You remember Wilson, 37, of Westport, right?

She's the McDonald's employee who created all sorts of controversy when she claimed that she was the winner, and then claimed that she wasn't sure she was the winner.

She put her McDonald's co-workers through a unique kind of torment as the mystery played itself out. Those co-workers had played in a lottery pool along with Wilson, who was the one buying tickets on behalf of the pool.

When Wilson announced that she had won, those co-workers went from being elated that they might have a share of the pie to being suspicious that she was ripping them off. Ultimately, they realized they were just one of the mega millions of Americans who had scrambled to play for the lottery jackpot -- and had nothing to show for it.

So what did the real winners think of Wilson?

"They were humored by it," Maryland Lottery director Stephen Martino told the Sun.

Maryland Lottery officials largely respected the winners' desire to remain anonymous. But they offered a few tidbits of info about the newly rich, who went public on Monday.

The two women -- one is in her 20s, the other in her 50s -- and a man in his 40s had pooled their money and purchased 60 tickets from multiple locations in Maryland. And until striking it rich, each of the three school employees held down second jobs to make ends meet.

"If it can't be you, these people are precisely the people you would want to see win," the Sun quoted Martino as saying.

In all, three tickets shared the record jackpot, which was drawn on March 30 after several days of Mega Millions madness as millions of Americans rushed forward to get in on the action.

The other two tickets were purchased in Kansas and Illinois. Kansas' winner stepped forward Friday, but remains anonymous. So far, no one has claimed the ticket in Illinois.

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