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3 Mega Millions winners still at large

The record-breaking Mega Millions jackpot climbed to $656 million on Monday, though no one holding one of the three winning tickets has come forward yet to claim a share of the prize, officials said.

Three tickets — one each in Maryland, Kansas and Illinois — will split the jackpot, which officials said Monday was higher than previously estimated. It is now at $656 million, after sales from the 44 state lotteries were totaled, up from the previously reported $640 million. That means each winner would receive roughly $218 million apiece before taxes.

Winners in all three states have several months — in the case of Kansas, a year — to claim the prize. Both Maryland and Kansas allow winners to remain anonymous, though the winner in Illinois will be identified. The three tickets matched all six numbers: 2-4-23-38-46 and the Mega Ball, 23.

In Maryland, the New York Post reported Monday that a McDonald’s employee claimed to hold the winning ticket and planned to contact lottery officials Monday. But lottery spokeswoman Carole Everett said no one had come forward with the ticket sold at a 7-Eleven store in Baltimore County.

That woman, Mirlande Wilson, did not return a phone message from The Associated Press on Monday. Employees of the restaurant told the newspaper that the winning ticket had been purchased jointly by several people, though Wilson said she bought it on her own.

Employees at the restaurant would not comment to the AP. The franchise’s owner, Birul Desai, said in a statement that the report was purely speculation. He cautioned anyone against jumping to conclusions until the winning ticket is presented and verified.

The winning ticket in Illinois was sold at a convenience store in the small town of Red Bud, south of St. Louis. Kansas officials had not yet revealed the store where that state’s winning ticket was purchased.

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