'Regular Joe' wins $173 million lottery jackpot

CHICAGO - A 70-year-old retired Chicago-area man who described himself as a "regular Joe" will take home about US$127 million (S$173 million) after winning what lottery officials said on Tuesday was the biggest Illinois lottery jackpot.

Jesus Davila Jr. of suburban Naperville was handed a gigantic ceremonial check from the Jan. 16 Mega Millions drawing in an event broadcast on local television.

"You can't win if you don't play. I'm just a regular Joe, and I played," said Davila, a father of four and grandfather of four.

The Jan. 16 jackpot was $265 million if taken as an annuity, but Davila will take a one-time cash payment option, which after taxes totals about $127 million, the Illinois Lottery said.

Davila, a former professional driver, bought the winning ticket at Bucky's Express convenience store in Glendale Heights, another Chicago suburb. The store will get a $500,000 prize for selling the ticket.

Originally from Puerto Rico, Davila moved to the United States at the age of 6, according to a statement from the Lottery.

He was watching the numbers announced on the television at home and thought he had matched only the first five numbers on his single ticket and would get $1 million.

But his son rechecked and found all six numbers were matching.

Davila plans to share the windfall with his family, invest and donate to his favourite charities, the Lottery said.

"I would also like to a buy a big house with a really big lawn ... and a riding lawn mower," Davila said in a statement.

Illinois has not had a grand prize winner for the Mega Millions game since 2012, when a resident won a drawing that had a $218.6 million jackpot.

People bought tickets for the Jan. 16 drawing in 44 states, Washington, D.C., and the US Virgin Islands. Davila was the only person to match all six numbers.