The Maryland Lottery had a message for anyone who bought Mega Millions tickets at the Baltimore store where the winning ticket was sold last week: Check your tickets.
Maryland's lottery director Stephen Martino called a news conference today to dispel rumors that the state's winner had already come forward. He said he feared that doctored images of winning tickets over social media and April Fools' Day tales had led the real winner to dispose of their ticket.
"The ticket has not been claimed," Martino said today. "People need to look at their tickets."
Martino held the news conference after two people claimed to have won the bonanza, but had not shown their tickets to the state lottery office. The news conference, he said, was meant to "separate fact from fiction."
Martino said that the winning ticket had been sold at 7:15 p.m. Friday, less than four hours before the Mega Millions drawing, at a 7-Eleven on Liberty Road.
The Quick Pick ticket was one of three in the country to match the numbers of the $656 million jackpot. The other two were sold in Kansas and Illinois and also have not been claimed.
"No one has approached the lottery to claim this ticket," he said. "We have not heard from anyone claiming they have the ticket. No one has indicated to us that they have the winning ticket. Until that time… We will wait."
Although Martino said the lottery had the store's surveillance tapes from Friday, he said the time stamps for the tape and the lottery's computer system did not match.
"It's going to be potentially helpful for us as we verify a claim," he said, "[but] … you need a ticket."
Martino did not discuss Mirlande Wilson, the Baltimore mother of seven who says she bought one of the three winning Mega Millions tickets. She repeatedly has said she has to find the ticket.
During a news conference Wednesday, her attorney, Edward Smith, said he had not seen it.
"I don't think I want to see it until the lottery people have it in their hot, little hands," he said.
Also today, a Mississippi mother tearfully retracted her story that her son, a Glen Burnie, Md., roofer, possessed the winning ticket.
Linda Bobo of Brookhaven, Miss., told ABC News today that her son Mike Dronet had called her Friday saying he'd won the Mega Millions. She said he'd even sent her images of cash, saying he'd cashed in the ticket.
Bobo said that he lied to her until Wednesday, after several local news channels reported the story. During an interview over the phone, she said he finally confessed.
"He said, 'Mom, somebody played a joke on me with the lotto ticket. After all this for three days, I couldn't really tell you the honest truth,'" Bobo said.
She said she didn't know whether she'd ever speak to her middle child again.
"All I know is I got nothing but lies," Bobo said. "I have been humiliated in front of my neighbors, my friends, my in-laws. I can't even hold up my head. … He hasn't called me since. … I just don't understand."