A COUPLE have taken home just over $100 million after winning a lottery jackpot worth over $600 million in a controversial decision.
In March 2012, Merle and Patricia Butler from Red Bud, Illinois, about 38 miles south of St. Louis, Missouri, won a portion of a Mega Millions jackpot.
Today, the $656 million pot remains the second largest Mega Millions cash prize in United States history lottery critic.
Her share of the ticket, split between two other winners in Maryland and Kansas, was also the largest prize in Illinois Lottery history at the time, at $218.7 million.
Merle and Patricia managed to keep their win a secret from the small town for about three weeks, eventually arriving at Red Bud Village Hall to collect their winnings, it was reported mega millions.
However, their decision to make the lump sum payment over a number of years in lieu of annuity payments remains controversial among lottery advocates and pundits.
The couple took home $157.8 million instead of $218.7 million because the Illinois state government had taxed the lump sum, leaving a whopping $60.9 million difference.
In addition, legal expert Andrew Stoltmann, who has represented at least 10 lottery winners, warned that charging the lump sum is a bad decision that “90 percent of all lottery winners make”.
He argued that many winners “don’t have the infrastructure” to handle the money.
According to Stoltmann, this has to do with the financial education and the typical socio-economic background of lottery winners.
“They tend to come from a lower socioeconomic background,” the attorney said in an exclusive interview with The US Sun.
“They then take this enormous sum of money and they just don’t know what to do with it.”
“That’s a pretty big mistake,” added Stoltmann.
Despite their lump sum decision, Merle and Patricia made another decision that Stoltmann and other lottery attorneys have praised after acknowledging they had hit a big win.
The morning after the draw, which informed them of their win, they immediately placed their ticket in a bank safe deposit box, via abc news.
In addition, they contacted lawyers and financial experts for weeks before announcing themselves as the winners and collecting the $157.8 million payout.
The couple bought a $3 quick pick ticket on a whim and giggled together for hours after winning the March 30, 2012 drawing.
“[Patricia] “Looked at me kind of weird and I said, ‘No, we won,'” Merle recalled the night the couple received the same winning ticket at a press conference.
“And then she started giggling, she giggled for about four hours.”
The couple explained that they stayed up all night trying to figure out who they would share the prize with and found out in the morning that there were two more.
On April 9 of the same year, it was revealed that the Maryland winners were actually three teachers who had teamed up to buy 60 tickets.
They also chose the lump sum payment option of about $158 million and split it between themselves with about $35 million after taxes.
The Kansas winner, a single anonymous person, also chose a lump sum.
“We’re just normal people who have worked hard our whole lives, who love our family and our city, who pay our taxes and try to keep up with all the work that goes into owning and maintaining a home” , said Merle about the victory at the press conference.
“We just hit the jackpot with the lottery. We enjoy spending time with our family and friends and, believe it or not, we don’t expect winning to change our everyday lives too much.”
For more related content, see The US Sun’s coverage of a $77 million jackpot winner who lost half of his prize money in six years.
The US Sun also has a story of a family who claimed they had won the lottery five times before and had won $350,000.