Lady luck wins biggest-ever Illinois jackpot

 

LotteryCheck 1

 

Patricia and Joe Busking, along with Illinois Lottery Directory Greg Smith, hold an oversized, ceremonial check in the amount $393 million, the largest single payout in Illinois Lottery history. Pat won a Mega Millions drawing earlier this month.

Photo from the Illinois Lottery’s Facebook page

 

 

The largest Illinois lottery jackpot in history belongs to a Palos Heights woman, whose winning ticket reaped $393 million.

Patricia Busking beat the odds of one-in-258 million, according to Illinois Lottery officials, to become an very, very wealthy person by matching six numbers on a Mega Millions ticket purchased in town, not far from where she lives.

Let’s pause to consider $393 million. That’s the kind of coin that rebuilds long stretches of highway, the kind of scratch that would have easily funded the construction of the most expensive new building project in Chicago in all of 2016 (a 67-story luxury high-rise in Streeterville, One Bennett Park, at an estimated $248 million).

Or how about purchasing an island called Cave Cay in the Bahamas, currently for sale at a measly asking price of $60 million? Heck, at that price why not get a few more?

Busking’s intentions, however, are a bit more humble.

“We plan to share the winnings with our family and friends, and we’re very excited to donate to charities that are near and dear to our hearts,” she said last Friday as she and her husband, Joe, received a ceremonial, oversized check from Illinois Lottery officials at the Thompson Center in downtown Chicago.

Busking had purchased a five-dollar Mega Millions ticket at Nick’s Barbecue restaurant, 12658 S. Harlem Ave. in Palos Heights. Not long before midnight on Friday, August 11, her ship came in when the winning numbers were announced on the lottery’s website.

The morning after the drawing, her husband caught news on the radio stating that the winning ticket had been sold at Nick’s. Unbeknownst to the Buskings, the media had already descended on the local eatery, abuzz with word that the winning ticket had been sold there. Joe told Pat what he had heard on the radio and Pat checked her ticket.

“It was surreal, it was an out-of-body experience when I saw all those numbers that matched,” she said at the news conference at lottery headquarters.

“It’s amazing to think how lucky we were to be in the right place at the right time,” Busking said.

The retired healthcare worker plays the lottery only occasionally, she said, “when the jackpots get big.” Her winning six numbers were generated randomly by the computer and she bought only one ticket.

Patricia and Joe Busking were introduced to the world via a live video stream last Friday on WGN-TV. Soon after, neighbors stopped to talk with The Regional News, expressing their surprise and their congratulations. They had not yet heard the announcement.

“You are kidding me,” said Bette Sacks as she walked to her mailbox. “Oh, my word!”

“It couldn’t happen to a nicer couple,” said Pat Winger as she walked with her husband, Charlie, who nodded in agreement. “Oh my god, I just can’t wrap my head around this. We were told that it was someone who lived in Westgate,” she said, echoing a rumor that had been circulating around town since shortly after the winning ticket was announced.

At Nick’s Barbecue, owner Nick Andricopulos expressed delight for the winners.

“We are very happy and excited for Pat and Joe and their family,” said Andricopulos. “We are grateful they are regular customers of Nick’s. We wish the Busking family good health and happiness enjoying their good fortune, and we’re happy to be a small part in their fairytale story.”

Andricopulos will earn $500,000 for his store’s part in selling the winning ticket.

The Buskings took their time before stepping forward, consulting with family and with financial advisors. They have opted to accept a lump-sum payment of $246 million before taxes. Attempts by The Regional to reach the Buskings—who are subscribers to this paper—were unsuccessful.

“Jackpots like this remind us that anything is possible,” said Illinois Lottery Director Greg Smith at the news conference.

 

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