Pravin Patel's customary "good luck" to lottery ticket buyers at his 7-Eleven store in Streamwood turned out to be worth $250,000 for one lucky customer.
"I always tell 'thank you,' and also 'good luck' to every lottery customer," Patel said on the phone Saturday morning, just after uttering the words to yet another lottery hopeful.
A Mega Millions ticket bought at Patel's store on North Barrington Road in Streamwood was among 11 sold in Illinois that turned out to be worth $250,000 after Friday night's drawing.
Also from Illinois was a grand prize ticket worth $213.3 million and sold in Red Bud, a small town southeast of St. Louis. The total jackpot of $640 million, a lottery record, is being split among the Illinois winner and two other winners, who bought their tickets in Kansas and Maryland.
The Jewel-Osco on Eola Road in Aurora also sold a $250,000 winning ticket, store manager Bob Jones said. The others were sold in Chicago, East Peoria, Granite City, Minooka, DeKalb, Rockford, Rochelle and Monee. All were quick picks, except for the Rochelle ticket.
Stores that sell winning tickets get a bonus check equal to 1 percent of the prize, or $2,500.
Neither Patel nor Jones knew the identity of the winners on Saturday.
"I hope he comes in and tells me that he won from my store," Patel said.
"I would guess that unless they are from somewhere else, they would come back" to claim the prize, Jones said.
Both men said they, too, bought Mega Millions tickets.
"I play only when the amount gets high," Patel said.
Jones said he took part in an office pool and also bought his own tickets, spending $8 but recouping $7.
The $213.3 million ticket sold in Red Bud was the largest single win in Illinois history, Illinois Lottery Superintendent Michael Jones said. The previous record set in 2000 was $186 million with "The Big Game," a Mega Millions precursor, he said.
"This is pretty extraordinary," Michael Jones said. "I have no idea who the person is. I called the store that sold the ticket this morning. It was obviously a very hectic morning for them. The manager … was thrilled beyond belief. She just got off the phone with BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation)."
The grand prize winners have the option of getting a lump-sum, before-tax payout of $154 million or the full $213.3 million in yearly payments over the course of 26 years, Michael Jones said. The $250,000 prizes are given out in lump sums, he said.
Whichever option people choose, 25 percent in federal taxes and 5 percent in state taxes is withheld before the prize is cashed out, said Craig Minnick of Buffalo Grove, an attorney and CPA with the firm Horwich Coleman Levin of Chicago.
"They treat it as if you got a paycheck from your employer," Minnick said.
In addition, the grand prize will put winners in the top tax bracket, which likely means they could still owe about 10 percent in taxes come filing time in April 2013, he added.
This Mega Millions round yielded about $30 million in sales in Illinois, the vast majority from $1 tickets, Michael Jones said.
Lottery proceeds go mostly to the state's common school fund. Proceeds from Internet-based ticket sales, which began a week ago and amounted to about $1 million through Friday night, go to the state's capital development fund, he said.
"The whole idea behind the lottery is that you risk a minimal amount of money against very, very small odds to win very, very large amounts. Then the money goes to something that hopefully people believe is beneficial to their communities," Michael Jones said.