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Ticket bought in Illinois wins $1.337B Mega Millions jackpot

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By Don Babwin in Chicago

CHICAGO (AP) — A single ticket bought in a Chicago suburb beat the odds and won a $1.337 billion Mega Millions jackpot.

According to megamillions.com, there was one jackpot-winning ticket in the draw Friday night, and it was bought at a Speedway gas station and convenience store in Des Plaines.

The winning numbers were: 13-36-45-57-67, Mega Ball: 14.

“We are thrilled to have witnessed one of the biggest jackpot wins in Mega Millions history,” Ohio Lottery Director Pat McDonald, the current Lead Director for the Mega Millions Consortium, said in a statement on the lottery’s website. “We’re eager to find out who won and look forward to congratulating the winner soon!”

The jackpot was the nation’s third-largest lottery prize. It grew so large because no one had matched the game’s six selected numbers since April 15. That’s 29 consecutive draws without a jackpot winner.

Illinois Lottery officials had estimated the winning take at $1.28 billion, but revised the number up to $1.337 billion on Saturday.

The total prize is for winners who choose the annuity option, paid annually over 29 years. Most winners opt for the cash option, which for Friday night’s drawing was an estimated $780.5 million.

The odds of winning the jackpot are 1 in 302.5 million.

According to the Illinois Lottery, the store that sold the ticket is a pretty big winner, too; it will receive half a million dollars just for selling the ticket. A clerk at the Speedway store who answered the phone but declined to give his name said the store has not been officially notified officially that it sold the winning ticket and that he learned about it from reporters calling for comment.

Mega Millions is played in 45 states as well as Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The game is coordinated by state lotteries.

Illinois is among the states where winners of more than $250,000 can choose to not reveal their names and Illinois Lottery spokeswoman Emilia Mazur said the vast majority of those winners do just that.

Even lottery officials may not know for a while who won because winners don’t have to come forward straight away. And the winning ticket may have been bought by a group of people.

“We won’t know whether it’s an individual or it’s a lottery pool until the winner comes forward to claim their prize,” National Mega Millions spokeswoman Danielle Frizzi-Babb said.

Emily Irwin, managing director, Advice & Planning, at Wells Fargo’s Wealth & Investment Management, said Friday that the winner should consider keeping a low profile and resist going on an eyebrow-raising spending spree that everyone knows the winner cannot afford.

“This is not the time to start calling everybody you know, saying, ‘Hey, I have a big secret. Can you keep it?’” Irwin said.

This is necessary to avoid being inundated with requests for money.

“There are scammers and others who follow big winners,” she said, admitting that sudden wealth can put a lottery winner in physical danger.

“Privacy equals safety,” she said.

One thing the winner must do immediately is sign the ticket. That’s because if the ticket hasn’t been signed then it really isn’t yours. If the winner loses an unsigned ticket and another person finds it and signs it, the ticket now belongs to them.

Irwin suggests a step further to survive a legal battle over ownership.

“Take a Polaroid of you holding it and (put) it in a safe deposit box or somewhere else safe,” she said.

Pratik Patel, the head of Family Wealth Strategies at BMO Family Office in Chicago, said the winner should work with a financial planner to map out their future.

“I would run a Monte Carlo market simulation,” Patel said, explaining that this is an analysis of what a winner’s annual income might be and what the proceeds from various investments might be. “What you’re doing is using analytics to inform your spending.”

Frizzi-Babb agrees that talking to a financial planner is a good idea.

“I would suggest that you do that before you even set foot in a lottery office,” the national lottery spokeswoman said.

There is also a question nobody wants to answer at that particular time: What happens to the money when you die?

Irwin said don’t leave this unanswered; you must take action to ensure the bulk of your estate goes to your beneficiaries rather than the government.

“You need a manager who specializes in this and understands this world,” said Patel. “Someone making $60,000 a year might need a certain type of professional manager and they may want to switch to someone who does ultra wealth.”

Whatever the winner does, it is important to do it slowly.

“You can absolutely indulge but let’s be smart about it,” Patel said. “It’s a lot of money but until you figure out what you can afford, there are still limitations.”

For example, he said, consider chartering a private jet before diving in and buying one.

“You may be interested in owning your favorite basketball team,” he warned, “but maybe that isn’t a good idea if it uses up all your money.”

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Energy

Europe faces ‘unprecedented risk’ of gas shortage, IEA says

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By David Mchugh

Europe faces “unprecedented risks” to its natural gas supplies this winter after Russia cut off most pipeline shipments and could wind up competing with Asia for already scarce and expensive liquid gas that comes by ship, the International Energy Agency said.

The Paris-based IEA said in its quarterly gas report released Monday that European Union countries would need to reduce use by 13% over the winter in case of a complete Russian cutoff amid the war in Ukraine. Much of that cutback would have to come from consumer behavior such as turning down thermostats by 1 degree and adjusting boiler temperatures as well as industrial and utility conservation, the group said.

The EU on Friday agreed to mandate a reduction in electricity consumption by at least 5% during peak price hours.

Just a trickle of Russian gas is still arriving in pipelines through Ukraine to Slovakia and across the Black Sea through Turkey to Bulgaria. Two other routes, under the Baltic Sea to Germany and through Belarus and Poland, have shut down.

Another hazard in the study was a late winter cold snap, which would be particularly challenging because underground gas reserves flow more slowly at the end of the season due to less gas and lower pressure in the storage caverns. The EU has already filled storage to 88%, ahead of its goal of 80% before winter. The IEA assumed 90% would be needed in its Russian cutoff scenario.

Businesses in Europe have already cut back natural gas use, sometimes simply by abandoning energy-intensive activity such as making steel and fertilizer, while smaller businesses like bakeries are feeling a severe crimp in their costs.

High prices for gas, which is used for heating homes, generating electricity and a host of industrial processes are feeding through to record consumer inflation of 10% in the 19 EU member countries that use the euro and sapping so much consumer purchasing power that economists predict a recession at the end of this year and the beginning of next.

European governments and utilities have made up much of the Russian shortfall by purchasing expensive supplies of liquefied natural gas, or LNG, that comes by ship from countries such as the U.S. and Qatar and by obtaining increased pipeline supply from Norway and Azerbaijan.

The goal is to prevent storage levels from falling so far that governments must ration gas to businesses. Gas storage must remain above 33% for a secure winter, according to the IEA, while levels below that risk shortages if there’s a late cold snap.

Lower levels also would make it harder for Europe to refill storage next summer, while higher reserves from conservation would help lower extremely high prices.

European leaders say the cutback in Russian gas is energy blackmail aimed at pressuring governments over their support for Ukraine and sanctions against Moscow.

Since Russia halted flows this month through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline running under the Baltic Sea to Germany, it and the parallel Nord Stream 2 — built but never operated after Germany refused to certify it — were damaged in underwater explosionsthat European governments say are sabotage.

Demand for liquefied gas has driven up prices and tightened supply to the extent that poorer countries in Asia cannot afford it. Bangladesh is experiencing widespread power blackouts, while Pakistan faces rolling blackouts and has introduced reduced working hours for shops and factories to save electricity.

“Interregional competition in LNG procurement may create further tension, as additional European needs would put more pressure on other buyers, especially in Asia, and conversely cold spells in Northeast Asia could limit Europe’s access to LNG,” the agency said.

The gas crisis in Europe has also deprived Asian countries of the limited number of floating regasification terminals, which were expected to play a major role in LNG imports in Southeast Asia. Europe has secured 12 of the vessels and plans another nine.

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International

MLB playoff primer: Things to know as postseason nears

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By David Brandt

Major League Baseball’s postseason has a little more heft this season.

The playoffs are rapidly approaching, with the final regular season games set for Oct. 5. The postseason begins two days later with a field of 12 teams — up from last year’s 10 — and includes a best-of-three format for the opening wild-card round.

An expanded postseason could lead to some spicy early postseason matchups. San Diego’s newly acquired slugger Juan Soto against the defending World Series champion Braves? Ageless star Albert Pujols and the Cardinals against Bryce Harper, Kyle Schwarber and the Phillies?

Both are possibilities depending on results in the season’s final week.

MLB’s new wild-card format is similar to the one currently used in college baseball for the NCAA Super Regional round: The three games will be scheduled on three consecutive days from Oct. 7-9 at the higher seed’s field. The first team that gets two wins advances.

After that, the playoffs will be business as usual. The division series will be best-of-five, while the league championship series and World Series will be best-of-seven.

Here’s a little more information about baseball’s bulked-up postseason:

WHAT’S NEW IN BASEBALL’S WILD-CARD ROUND?

The best-of-three wild card format is a change from the sudden death one-game format that’s been in place since 2012.

Six teams each from the American League and National League will qualify for the postseason, including the three division winners in each league. The three wild-card teams in each league will be the teams with the best record that didn’t win their division.

The top two teams with the best records in each league will get a bye and don’t have to play in the wild-card round. Those four teams get a few days of rest. Right now, that would be the Astros and Yankees in the American League and the Dodgers and Braves in the National League.

The wild-card round will feature four series: The No. 6 seed will play at the No. 3 seed in both the AL and NL. The No. 5 seed will play at the No. 4 seed.

WHY ARE THE PLAYOFFS STARTING LATE?

October’s postseason festivities will bleed into November before a champion is crowned.

That’s mostly because of the sport’s labor strife that resulted in a work stoppage over the winter. It delayed the beginning of spring training and pushed the regular season back about a week. Baseball players and owners salvaged the usual 162-game season, but to do that, they had to move opening day from March 31 to April 7.

Some of the games originally scheduled for the first week of the season were moved to the end, meaning a season that was originally scheduled to end on Oct. 2 instead ends on Oct. 5.

Hence, a late start to the playoffs.

WHAT HAPPENED TO BASEBALL TIEBREAKER GAMES?

Game No. 163 is one that lives in baseball lore. Bucky Dent’s homer for the Yankees in 1978. Matt Holliday’s game-winning run in the 13th inning for the Rockies in 2007.

Those days are gone.

If there’s a tie for one of the playoff spots, mathematical tiebreakers will be used instead of an extra game. The first will be the head-to-head record between the two teams involved.

If that can’t handle the stalemate, the team with the best intra-divisional record will win the tiebreaker. If that doesn’t work, the process continues with more and more convoluted solutionsuntil a resolution is reached.

It’s unlikely tiebreakers will be needed in the American League, but keep an eye on the National League. The Braves and Mets are locked in a tight race for the NL East, while the Brewers and Phillies are in a battle for the final NL wild-card spot.

WHO ARE THE FAVORITES?

Great question.

The Los Angeles Dodgers have been dominant all season with a lineup that includes Mookie Betts, Trea Turner, Will Smith and Freddie Freeman. They could top 110 wins this season during the final week.

Over in the American League, the Houston Astros have already topped 100 wins as well. They’ve got a loaded lineup that includes Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and Yordan Alvarez, along with potential AL Cy Young winner Justin Verlander.

New York’s teams should figure into the mix as well. The Yankees were cruising for much of the season — led by star Aaron Judge’s 61-homer campaign — but have just a 30-31 record since the All-Star break. The Mets have one of the league’s deepest pitching staffs, with two aces on top in Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer.

___

More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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