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Maryland ticket holder claims share of $656M Mega Millions lottery jackpot

Mega Millions

Jan. 4, 2011: Lottery ticket sales operator Laura Szafranski takes a Mega Millions lottery ticket from the printer for a customer in Pittsburgh. (AP)

The Mega mystery may be solved Tuesday -- or maybe not.

The holder of the winning ticket from Maryland has come forward to claim a share of last month's record $656 million Mega Millions lottery drawing, state lottery officials announced Monday.

Three winning tickets were sold across the country, but speculation about the Maryland ticket reached fever pitch last week when a Maryland woman, Mirlande Wilson, 37, said she had the ticket, then alternately claimed she had lost it and had hidden it inside the McDonald's restaurant where she works. Her attorney, who admitted he couldn't back up her story, said she wanted to be left alone.

Was she telling the truth? Was it all a hoax? Even after lottery officials hold their news conference at 8 a.m. Tuesday, we still may not know.

The winner has chosen to remain anonymous -- Maryland does not require lottery winners to be identified -- but officials expected to share some details at a news conference Tuesday morning. cited unnamed sources saying the winner wasn't Wilson or anyone associated with her.

Lottery spokeswoman Carole Everett says the winner claimed the prize with the winning ticket at lottery headquarters on Monday. She says she wouldn't give any details about the winner until Tuesday morning.

Maryland's winner bought the ticket at a 7-Eleven store in Milford Mill outside Baltimore. That person will split the prize with winners in Illinois and Kansas.

Lottery officials increased the final jackpot to $656 million after tallying sales from the 44 state lotteries.

Maryland has been the home of Mega Millions winners in the past. In 2007, Ellwood "Bunky" Bartlett won roughly $27 million after taxes.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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