First-time lottery player nets $183m pot

Somewhere in America's Midwest, two people woke up yesterday morning with a lot more money. A record lottery prize of $366m (£242m) was shared between two winners, one in Michigan and one in Illinois, reports said.

A winning ticket was purchased at Mr K's Party Shoppe in Shelby Township, about 15 miles north of Detroit, and another in Sweeney's Food Works at Lake Zurich, north-west of Chicago.

The Illinois man claimed his prize and was presented with a cheque for $1.83m, 1 per cent of his $183m payout. The Michigan winner was a little more bashful, however: though he contacted lottery officials with the correct validation code, he had not made an appointment to collect his winnings.

Melvin Kassab, whose father, George, owns Mr K's, said the man was a first-time player. "I remember selling him the ticket," said Kassab, 23. "When he bought the ticket he told me that he'd never played the lottery before. I told him, 'You know what? The guys who never play, they are the ones who are going to win'." Millions of Americans had stormed petrol stations and grocers as the prize in the Big Game draw soared.

In a country that feeds on dreams of avarice, the prospect of hitting the jackpot in a corner store was just too good to miss. Across seven states - Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey and Virginia - punters were snapping up tickets in vast numbers, pushing the potential jackpot past the previous record, a piddling $295m.

Sadly, $366m is not what it once was: it would not have got even a sole winner within spitting distance of the Forbes 400 list of the wealthiest Americans, admittance to which starts at about $800m.