Red Bud, Ill., Abuzz Over Winning Ticket Mystery

PHOTO: A customer at a convenience store holds her Mega Millions lottery tickets Friday, March 30, 2012, in Portland, Ore.
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It's a mystery, that may never be completely solved.

A third of the nation -- 100 million Americans -- played Mega Millions last week, and there are only three winning tickets, each worth $218 million.

The people who bought the winning tickets that were sold in Maryland and Kansas can remain anonymous because of state laws, but in Red Bud, Ill., population 3700, where lottery officials say the third winning ticket was purchased, the town is abuzz with the thought that someone there has suddenly become very rich.

"Who would have thought Red Bud would be put on the map," Red Bud resident Alice Proctor said.

It's a town where you most likely know your neighbor.

"Oh, it's exciting. It's exciting. You know, there's always, in small towns, there's always gossip going on. So it just gives everybody something to speculate about. And everybody's dreaming," Red Bud resident Joanne Cowell said.

And all along Illinois Highway 3, which runs through the middle of town, they are talking. Is it their neighbor who is the newest millionare?

"Oh my gosh, everybody's just guessing. And rumors are flying," Proctor said.

Rumors, names popping up at the Country Kitchen: "Not me," they say.

Which is what Nadine Wright told her kids when they called.

"And I said, well, no sorry. You're on your own for a while yet," Wright said.

Anyone tired of being asked if they are the newest millionaire can now buy a T-shirt reading "Yes, I am from Red Bud. No, I am not the winner."

Lottery officials say Americans will find out who bought the winning ticket in Illinois, but only when whoever it is claims the prize, and that could be in days or weeks.

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