Players await word of Mega Millions winners

The great mystery of Maryland's Mega Millions winner remained unsolved Monday morning.

Lottery officials said the winner had yet to come forward, but they have been "inundated" by rumors about the unknown winner. They countered claims in some publications that a likely winner had been identified as a Westport woman who worked at an area McDonald's.

"As anticipated, we're still waiting," said Carole Everett, lottery spokeswoman. "We do not expect this woman to come walking through the door this morning."

Several media organizations -- both national and local -- were camped out at Maryland lottery headquarters in the 1800 block of Washington Boulevard in Baltimore, setting up cameras and lighting in case the big winner arrives to claim the prize.

"We have a winner somewhere. We just don't know where that winner is," Everett said. "People want to be part of the thrill and live vicariously through others."

Sunday evening, hopes of learning the identity of the Baltimore County shopper who had bought a winning ticket to Friday's $656 million Mega Millions drawing were unfulfilled.

But hope of lightning striking twice — of another winner coming from the same 7-Eleven at 8014 Liberty Road that sold the jackpot ticket — had sprung.

"I've got some daughters I'd like to leave something to," said Arthur Charles Ferrell of Baltimore, who on Sunday bought two Powerball Lottery tickets from that Milford Mill convenience store. He had picked up (losing) tickets to Friday's Mega Millions drawing from another location.

Ferrell is aware that the chances of the same location generating two big-money tickets within the same weekend are slim — but you never know. He and other ticket buyers, locally and nationally, were waiting to see who would step forward with the winning tickets from Friday's drawing.

Maryland Lottery officials said that as of Sunday evening no one had come forth to claim the prize. Three winning tickets were sold for the multistate lottery — in Maryland, Kansas and Illinois — and the ticket holders will split the pot.

According to the Maryland Lottery website, jackpot prizes can be paid out as either an annuity or a cash payment within 60 days of the ticket's validation. Winners have 182 days after the drawing to claim their prizes.

The announcement of a winning ticket came on Saturday, the eve ofApril Fools' Day, and by Sunday morning the Web was filled with joking accounts of winners.

Carole Everett, the lottery spokeswoman, said that such responses are common any time of the year, adding, "Every time we have a big jackpot win and somebody doesn't come forward right away, it's like April Fools' Day all over again. Somebody will say, 'I know for sure it's my cousin's neighbor,' or 'I'm certain it's my kid's teacher,' or 'I know who it is. It's the guy in the store every day.'"

The Maryland Lottery often receives calls from people saying they're attorneys representing lottery winners, she said.

"They'll start asking questions that sound very logical and lawyerly," Everett said, "and we take note of those calls, because we tell people to go out and talk to professionals. If you have a ticket, talk to a financial adviser or talk to a lawyer."

She said that in some cases the lawyers who call do indeed represent the winners. Still, Everett said, "We don't know anything now, and we won't until somebody walks through the door holding the ticket."

Everett added that there is no average time between an announcement of a winner and the moment that person comes forward.

Baltimore Sun reporters Luke Broadwater and Yvonne Wenger contributed to this article.

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