By Omar Jimenez and Rebekah Riess, CNN
Almost eight weeks after the drawing in one of the largest-ever Mega Millions jackpots, two people — who agreed to split the prize, if won — have come forward to claim the $1.34 billion prize, the Illinois Lottery said.
The winning ticket was bought in late July at a Speedway gas station in Des Plaines, roughly a 20-mile drive northwest of downtown Chicago.
The jackpot is the third-largest in US history, according to the lottery.
The winners, who have spent the past few weeks working with professional legal and financial advisers on the claim process, wish to remain anonymous, the Illinois Lottery said. They have opted to take the lump sum payment of $780.5 million, the release said.
“I’ve been working for the Illinois Lottery for over five years and this is by far the largest prize I’ve ever had to process. When we met with the winners’ lawyers there was a real buzz of excitement in the room,” said Illinois Lottery Claims Manager Luis Rodriguez, who worked with the winners and their legal representatives through the prize claim process.
“It’s a surreal feeling giving away this amount of money and knowing what a huge impact this is going to make on the winners’ lives, and for others close to them as well. It was an incredible feeling just to be part of that process — so I can only imagine how the winners themselves are feeling,” Rodriguez added.
The winners’ purchase of a Mega Millions ticket after stopping into the Speedway “turned out to be an absolutely life changing decision,” Illinois Lottery Director Harold Mays said.
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