Illinois retiree claims state’s largest ever lotto jockpot

Joe and Patricia Busking of Palo Heights, Ill., claimed the state's largest-ever lottery jackpot, a $393 million prize for the Aug. 11 Mega Millions drawing. Photo courtesy Illinois Lottery Commission

Aug. 27 (UPI) — A retired healthcare worker from outside Chicago claimed the largest lottery jackpot in Illinois history, after purchasing the winning Mega Millions ticket two weeks ago.

Patricia Busking, of Palo Heights, Ill., purchased the winning ticket with her husband, Joe, at a restaurant near their home two weeks ago, prior to the Aug. 11 drawing. The pot for the interstate lotto game had grown to $393 million.

Busking said she is not a regular lottery player, but buys the occasional ticket “just when it gets big,” the Chicago Tribune reported.

She plunked down $5 for a quick pick at Nick’s BBQ restaurant after buying some steak sandwiches. After Joe Busking heard on the radio the winning ticket had been sold in their town, Patricia rushed to the newspaper and checked her numbers. All six matched: 23, 33, 53, 56, 58, and 06.

She signed the back of the ticket immediately.

“It was surreal,” Busking said of realizing she’d won. “It was an out-of-body experience when I saw all those numbers that matched.”

Rather than take the annual 30-year payout, Busking opted to take the cash in a lump sum. Her share of the pot after taxes is $246 million, Illinois lotto officials estimated.

It was the fifth-largest Mega Millions jackpot ever. The lottery had rolled over 30 times without a winner before Busking took home the prize.

Unlike the Massachusetts woman who came forward almost immediately to claim the record $758.7 million Powerball jackpot the same week, Busking waited two weeks to come forward with the winning ticket. During that time, she said she consulted family and financial advisers about how best to proceed. She said she plans to share the money with family and friends and donate a portion to unnamed charities.

Nick Andricopulos, the owner of the restaurant that sold the winning ticket, will also receive a $500,000 prize.

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