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NBC News and news services
updated 1/5/2011 5:21:30 PM ET 2011-01-05T22:21:30

After a nationwide frenzy for a life-changing chance to win a $380 million Mega Millions jackpot, the two winning tickets were sold in small Pacific Northwest towns just 125 miles apart.

Shoppers at a Safeway supermarket in Ephrata spent Wednesday wondering who bought one of the winners at the store 130 miles east of Seattle, in the middle of Washington's potato country. A stream of people were checking their tickets at the video department where lottery tickets are sold, then turning away disappointed.

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"We know as much as anyone else does," said Nathan Arlantico, 21, the video department manager. He said the store was busy with lines of potential millionaires all day Tuesday.

"It's possible I sold the winning lottery ticket," Arlantico said.

Idaho officials said someone bought the other winning ticket in the town of Post Falls, across the state line from Spokane, Wash.

"The Pacific Northwest is green today, more so than usual," said Jeff Anderson, executive director of the Idaho Lottery.

The winners have not yet stepped forward, and officials declined to identify the store where Idaho's winning ticket was sold, citing that state's security procedures.

Because of feverish sales right up to Tuesday night's drawing, the winners will share a $380 million jackpot, an increase over the previous $355 million estimate, said Scott Kinney, Washington's Lottery spokesman.

It's the second largest lottery jackpot in U.S. history. Two winners, in Georgia and New Jersey, shared a $390 million Mega Millions jackpot in March 2007 that remains the nation's richest on record.

Tuesday's winning tickets are each worth $190 million paid in 26 annual installments. Each lucky winner also has the option of taking an $81 million lump sum payment, Idaho Lottery spokesman David Workman said.

The jackpot winners had to match five regular numbers plus the "Mega ball." The winning numbers were 4, 8, 15, 25 and 47, with the Mega ball number of 42.

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Kevin Anderson, of Melba, Idaho, said he was among another 67 people nationwide who each won $250,000 by matching five numbers without the Mega ball. More than 5.5 million others won prizes ranging from $10,000 to $2.

"It made going to work so much easier today," Anderson told the Spokesman-Review newspaper. "I told my boss, if it'd been one more number, you would've gotten my resignation."

Video: Why lottery winners can be losers (on this page)

The large jackpot fascinated people across the country, and thousands lined up to buy tickets in the 41 states and Washington, D.C., where Mega Millions is available.

In a strange twist, NBC News reported that four of the six winning numbers featured in the plot of the ABC television TV show "Lost".

Four of the six winning numbers matched those that character Hugo "Hurley" Reyes used to win a lottery on the show, only to suffer a series of spectacular misfortunes. Hurley's numbers — 4, 8, 15, 16, 23 and 42 — popped up throughout the show.

Mega Millions said 25,587 tickets matched three of the winning numbers, plus the bonus number — so anyone who played the "Lost" numbers won $150 per ticket.

___

Bonner reported from Boise, Idaho. Associated Press writers Phuong Le in Seattle and Oskar Garcia in Las Vegas contributed to this report.

The Associated Press and NBC News contributed to this report.

Video: Mega Millions: The hottest ticket in town

  1. Transcript of: Mega Millions: The hottest ticket in town

    BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: That giant Mega Millions jackpot that was supposed to give someone a really happy new year is still up for grabs tonight. It has grown to $355 million. That's the second largest pot in the multi-state's game's history. The huge prize has brought out the gambler in just about everybody. In Nevada , perhaps not surprisingly, hundreds of people lined up for a shot at it, though the odds of winning are pretty steep even for Vegas . They're one in 176 million.

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