Winning Mega Millions lottery tickets in Idaho, Wash.

Jan 5 2011 - 11:57pm

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(JEROME A. POLLOS/Coeur d'Alene Press) Teresa Thompson checks a customer's lottery ticket Wednesday at the Handy Mart in Post Falls, Idaho. One of two winning lottery tickets for Tuesday's $380-million drawing was purchased in Post Falls, Idaho.
(NICHOLAS K. GERANIOS/The Associated Press) Safeway store clerk Nathan Arlantico, 21, takes a call at the counter Wednesday where a winning Mega Millions lottery ticket was sold in Ephrata, Wash. After a nationwide frenzy for a life-changing chance to win a $380 million Mega Millions jackpot, the two winning tickets were sold in small Pacific Northwest towns just 125 miles apart. The other winning ticket was purchased in Post Falls, Idaho.
(CHARLIE LITCHFIELD/The Associated Press) Idaho Lottery Commission employees walk up the stairs past a lottery machine at the Idaho Lottery Commission offices in Boise on Wednesday. One of two winning Mega Millions tickets with a $380 million jackpot was sold in Post Falls, Idaho.
(JEROME A. POLLOS/Coeur d'Alene Press) Teresa Thompson checks a customer's lottery ticket Wednesday at the Handy Mart in Post Falls, Idaho. One of two winning lottery tickets for Tuesday's $380-million drawing was purchased in Post Falls, Idaho.
(NICHOLAS K. GERANIOS/The Associated Press) Safeway store clerk Nathan Arlantico, 21, takes a call at the counter Wednesday where a winning Mega Millions lottery ticket was sold in Ephrata, Wash. After a nationwide frenzy for a life-changing chance to win a $380 million Mega Millions jackpot, the two winning tickets were sold in small Pacific Northwest towns just 125 miles apart. The other winning ticket was purchased in Post Falls, Idaho.
(CHARLIE LITCHFIELD/The Associated Press) Idaho Lottery Commission employees walk up the stairs past a lottery machine at the Idaho Lottery Commission offices in Boise on Wednesday. One of two winning Mega Millions tickets with a $380 million jackpot was sold in Post Falls, Idaho.

EPHRATA, Wash. -- The suspense over who bought the two winning tickets in the $380 million Mega Millions lottery focused Wednesday on two small towns nestled just 125 miles apart in the snow-covered Pacific Northwest.

One was sold in Post Falls, Idaho, and the other at a Safeway supermarket in Washington.

Washington Lottery Communications Director Scott Kinney said the Washington ticket was sold to a retired man who plans to claim his winnings today.

But no one in Idaho has claimed the prize. Each ticket is worth $190 million, paid in 26 annual installments.

The prospect of winning the second-biggest jackpot in history drew huge interest across the country as thousands of people lined up to buy tickets in the 41 states and Washington, D.C., where the lottery is held.

A day after the drawing, all eyes were on the Northwest, and on the similarity between the winning digits and the ones used by a character on the TV show "Lost."

The winners had to match five regular numbers plus the "Mega ball."

The winning numbers were 4, 8, 15, 25 and 47, with the Mega ball number of 42. Four of the six winning numbers matched numbers prominently featured throughout the popular series -- 4, 8, 15, 16, 23 and 42.

Video producer Ryan Jones, of New York, said he and a co-worker pooled their money to buy 10 tickets together, but he returned to the grocery store to buy an 11th entry just to play the "Lost" numbers.

Mega Millions said 25,587 tickets matched three of the winning numbers, plus the bonus number -- so anyone who played the "Lost" numbers won $150 per ticket.

"When the numbers popped up, I did have a moment where I thought: 'You know, I could take this money and run, just get far away from Sarah and not share it with her,' " he said, adding he decided to share the prize.

Character Hugo "Hurley" Reyes became a multimillionaire on "Lost" when he won using numbers repeated by a former Navy seaman who became a patient in a mental institution. Hurley was also a patient.

But his win came with a series of spectacular misfortunes -- his grandfather died after a heart attack at Hurley's news conference and the house he bought for his mom caught on fire. Hurley even believed he caused the plane crash that left him and fellow passengers stranded on an island as the saga began. He blamed it on the numbers.

Jones said he has been ribbed many times since Tuesday's drawing that he may now be cursed. "You know what? I think that I'm willing to take the curse in exchange for the $150. Let it come, I say."

Because of feverish sales right up to the evening drawing, the winners will share a $380 million jackpot, an increase over the previous $355 million estimate, said Scott Kinney, Washington's Lottery spokesman.

In March 2007, two winners, in Georgia and New Jersey, shared the richest prize -- a $390 million Mega Millions jackpot. Tuesday's winning tickets are each worth $190 million, paid in 26 annual installments.

In Idaho, the lucky winner also has the option of taking a nearly $81 million lump sum payment after state and federal taxes are withheld, said Jeff Anderson, executive director of the Idaho Lottery.

Idaho officials identified Post Falls -- a suburb of Spokane, Wash. -- as the town where the ticket was bought, but did not release the name of the place where it was sold, citing the state's security procedures.

No state taxes would apply in Washington, where the lump sum payment would be $90 million after the 25 percent federal tax.

The lives of the big winners will most certainly change, but for others, the lottery will be a fun memory.

Hunter Hart, of Los Angeles, said he bought a ticket that won $150. When asked what he planned to do with his winnings, the 26-year-old Internet entrepreneur said: "Well, I'm actually at the bar right now spending it. It's been a rough month, dude."

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