Mega Millions: Retired couple claim Illinois jackpot

Illinois lottery winners Merle Butler and his wife Patricia speak at a news conference in their hometown

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A retired couple from southern Illinois are the third and final winners to claim a share of a record $656m (£409m) Mega Millions lottery jackpot.

Merle and Patricia Butler have chosen to accept the prize money in a single, lump-sum payment of $111m after taxes.

They said they would treat themselves, possibly to a holiday, after they decide how to invest their winnings.

Winners in the US states of Kansas and Maryland came forward anonymously to claim their share of the jackpot.

The Butlers bought their winning ticket from a convenience shop in the Illinois town of Red Bud, which has about 3,700 residents.

'Another full-time job'

The Butlers said that since the 30 March draw they have spoken to a series of financial advisers and lawyers but had told fewer than five people about their winnings.

"It's just very exciting. We've been meeting with a lot of people, just not here in town," Mrs Butler said.

The couple said that they had not made plans about what to do with the money, but were putting together an investment strategy.

"I was retired. It looks like I have another full-time job," said Mr Butler, who is a retired computer systems analyst. He added: "There could possibly be a vacation in there."

The Butlers, who have been married for 41 years and have grandchildren, said they were not planning to move out of Red Bud.

"This is a nice, comfortable, family-oriented community. We've lived here a long time. We don't plan to go anywhere else," Mr Butler said.

About 100 of the town's residents gathered outside the community hall where the news conference took place, and cheered the Butlers as they came outside afterwards.

The town had been trying to guess who had won the winning ticket, wondering if the winner lived locally or had left the motorway to pick up a ticket while passing through.

The Butlers are the only winners who have been publicly identified, a requirement of the Illinois Lottery.

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