The three Mega Millions winners stayed out of sight Saturday. The losers, who could number 100 million, had plenty to say about losing out on the world's largest-ever lottery jackpot and their dashed dreams of colossal wealth.
Journalists descended on convenience stores in Illinois and Maryland as lottery officials there and in Kansas proclaimed they sold the three winning tickets in the $640 million world record-breaking Mega Millions jackpot. Each winning ticket is worth $213 million before taxes. But on the street, online and outside the stores where the winners had purchased their tickets, Americans grumbled about hopes that were raised and then vanished.
"What do I do with this useless lottery ticket now?" Laurel Ashton Brooks of Greensboro, N.C., asked on Twitter.
As the jackpot got bigger by the hour on Thursday and Friday, Americans had snapped up tickets while dreaming of quitting jobs, paying off debts, building hospitals, buying an island. With the odds of winning at 1 in 176 million, they took to Twitter and Facebook on Saturday to bemoan their lost chance at millions.
Even President Obama's re-election campaign tapped into the widespread lottery letdown. It sent a fundraising email with the subject "Jackpot" that began: "Yeah, we didn't either. So we're still at it."
All told, Americans spent nearly $1.5 billion for a chance to hit the jackpot, which amounts to a $462 million lump sum and around $347 million after federal tax withholding.
Illinois' winner used a quick pick -- an automatically generated set of digits -- to select the winning numbers at a convenience store in Red Bud, a farming community of 3,700 about 40 miles south of St. Louis, Illinois Lottery spokesman Mike Lang said. The winning numbers also were purchased at a 7-Eleven in Milford Mill, Md., north of Baltimore, and somewhere in northeast Kansas.
"It's just unbelievable. Everyone is wanting to know who it is," said Denise Metzger, manager of the MotoMart where Illinois' winning ticket was sold.
"All day yesterday I was selling tickets, and I was hoping someone from Red Bud would win. Never in my wildest dreams did I think this. I'm just tickled pink," added Metzger, whose store will receive $500,000 for selling the winning ticket, lottery officials said.
Maryland does not require lottery winners to be identified; the Mega Millions winner can claim the prize anonymously. The 7-Eleven store will receive a $100,000 bonus for selling the winning ticket, which was purchased Friday night.
The third winning ticket was purchased in northeast Kansas, but no other information would be released by the Kansas Lottery until the winner comes forward, spokeswoman Cara S. Sloan-Ramos said. The Kansas location that sold the ticket will receive $10,000.
Kansas law allows lottery winners to remain anonymous. Lottery winners in Illinois are identified.