Palos Heights restaurant sells $393M Mega Millions ticket

Daily Southtown

One lucky person who purchased a Mega Millions lottery ticket from Nick's Barbecue in Palos Heights has won an estimated $393 million.

It was the only ticket in the country to match all six numbers — 23, 33, 53, 56, 58 and 06 — during the Friday night drawing. The payout is the largest for the Mega Millions game in Illinois history and the fifth largest in the country, according to Illinois Lottery director Greg Smith, who visited the 12658 S. Harlem Ave. restaurant Saturday morning.

Until Friday, the largest Illinois payout was $265 million from a ticket sold in Naperville in 2015.

"The bar has been raised," Smith said.

Although the winner has yet to come forward, restaurant owner Nick Andricopulos will receive a $500,000 bonus for selling the ticket. Andricopulos said he learned the news from one of his employees Friday night.

"It's hard to sleep when you have great news like that," he said.

Retailers who sell a winning Lottery ticket typically receive 1 percent of the jackpot but the payout is capped at $500,000 for the Mega Millions game.

Andricopulos, 60, of Palos Park, said neither he nor his employees have any idea who purchased the Quick Pick ticket.

While he doesn't know what exactly he'll do with the money, it's probable much of it will be put back into his business, Andricopulos said. His owns five barbecue restaurants, with the other locations being in Tinley Park, Homer Glen, Burbank and Romeoville.

Restaurants don't typically sell lottery tickets, Andricopulos acknowledged, but it's something he started doing about eight years ago for his patrons and it's worked out well for all of his restaurants.

"It's a convenience for the customer," he said.

In addition to sharing in the jackpots, retailers also receive a 5 percent commission on every ticket sold.

Before Friday, the largest winning ticket ever sold at one of his restaurants was for $10,000, Andricopulos said. That was also in Palos Heights, when someone matched five of six Mega Millions numbers about six years ago, he said.

Friday's winner has a choice of accepting his or her winnings in annual payments or taking a one-time payout that will add up to $246 million before state and federal taxes are taken out.

Tuesday's Mega Millions jackpot resets to $15 million. The one that ended Friday began April 28 and rolled over 30 times before the winning ticket was purchased, according to the Illinois Lottery.

"The Illinois Lottery urges the lucky winner to immediately sign the back of the ticket and keep it in a safe place until they visit one of the Lottery's five Prize Centers in Chicago, Des Plaines, Rockford, Springfield or Fairview Heights," the Illinois Lottery said in a news release. "Winners have one year from the original drawing date to claim a prize."

Frank Vaisvilas is a freelance reporter for the Daily Southtown.

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