Two teachers and a school administrator have come forward to claim their share of the world's largest lottery jackpot, exposing as false a McDonald's worker who said she had scooped the prize.
The announcement that the friends, who all work in the Maryland public school system and call themselves the Three Amigos, are the real ticket-holders brings to an end 10 days of speculation about the identity of the winner of the Mega Millions jackpot.
Hours after the draw, Mirlande Wilson, a Haitian immigrant and mother of seven, claimed she had won the prize, infuriating her co-workers at a Baltimore branch of McDonald's who insisted that she had been in a work syndicate and the millions should be shared.
Three tickets shared the record $US656 million ($640 million) lottery prize following a draw on March 31 - the other two were bought in Kansas and Illinois.
The three Maryland school workers opted to remain anonymous, as did the Kansas winner, but provided officials with a few details about their lives. In Illinois, where the prize remains unclaimed, winners must by law be identified.
Winners can choose whether to accept their payout in a heavily taxed lump sum, or annual awards spread over 26 years. The Maryland trio, a woman in her 20s, a woman in her 50s and a man in his 40s who used to be colleagues, all work full-time and have part-time jobs to supplement their incomes.
They opted to receive a lump sum of $35 million each after taxes and are planning new homes, European holidays and a daughter's college fund, but insist they will not be giving up their day jobs. One of the group is a primary schoolteacher, another teaches pupils with special needs and the third provides administrative support in a school.
The friends each chipped in $20 to buy 60 tickets - one of the other tickets won $1. Stephen Martino, director of the Maryland Lottery, said: "If it can't be you, these people are precisely the people you would want to see win."