Red Bud store sells a winning ticket; no one has claimed $213.3 million prize

Published: Monday, April 2, 2012 10:00 a.m. CDT

RED BUD (MCT) — The MotoMart on Main Street was bustling Saturday after news spread that a winning Mega Million ticket had been sold there, possibly making a local resident one of the richest lottery winners in history.

"It's been pretty crazy around here," store manager Denise Metzger said while customers milled through the convenience store, buying more tickets and telling about their missed chance at millions.

"I came close; I had one number," said Rod Groetecke, a Red Bud resident.

Although he didn't win "Albert Pujols' money," what Groetecke called the $213.3 million prize, he did win $10 playing Little Lotto. "So at least that bought lunch at Burger King."

Reporters -- local and national -- swarmed around the store, interviewing Metzger and trying to find out who was the lucky winner of at least $213,3 million, one-third of Friday's $640 million jackpot.

Metzger said the winning amount could still go up as lottery officials tally the total number of tickets sold.

Mega Millions announced Saturday that three winning tickets were sold: one in Maryland, one in Kansas and one in Red Bud. Those

And Red Bud wasn't the only metro-east town with a winner: A second-place ticket worth $250,000 was sold in Granite City. Overall, 12 second-place tickets that matched five numbers were sold in Illinois. One of these tickets was worth $1 million.

"Well, it's wonderful, I guess," said Walter Wittenauer, a Red Bud resident who bought several lottery tickets. "I didn't win though."

The 83-year-old said that might be for the best: Life is good and the news that his ticket matched the winning numbers might have given him a heart attack, Wittenauer said with a laugh.

Metzger, who said she isn't sure who the winner is, suspects it's a local resident.

During her 10-hour stint selling the hot tickets Friday, "we saw a lot of familiar faces," she said.

"My gut feeling is that it's someone from town," she said. "It's so cool."

Metzger received word shortly after 7 a.m. Saturday about the winning ticket.

Her response: "Oh my God,. You've got to be kidding me."

She quickly rushed into work on her day off -- but not before she asked her husband to check the winning numbers to make sure she wasn't the big winner.

She wasn't.

So she spent the day answering reporters' questions, accepting a giant Illinois Lottery check on behalf of the unnamed winner and selling even more tickets: "We have sold an awful lot of tickets today," she said.

She and other MotoMart employees at the Red Bud location will be rewarded for the sale, kind of like winning the lottery themselves.

The gas station will be awarded $500,000 for selling the winning ticket. Part of that money will be divided among employees, Metzger said. Moto Mart is based in Belleville and has stores in six states.

Later in the day, a satellite truck sat outside the MotoMart for media.

Metzger said she had been interviewed by the British Broadcasting Corp. and other media outlets from around the world.

Metzger said, "I'm really glad that this put a small town like Red Bud on the map."

The Associated Press and the Chicago Tribune contributed information for this article.

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