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Rumors swirl, LI Mega Millions winner remains mystery

Thomas Wilde, 75, of Rocky Point, stopped by

Thomas Wilde, 75, of Rocky Point, stopped by Cards & Things after hearing that the winning $162-million Mega Millions lottery ticket was sold at the store. (Dec. 23, 2009) Credit: James Carbone

One story goes that the big winner in last week's $162-million Mega Millions game was a kindly priest who plans to give all the money to the church.

Another popular rumor at Cards and Things in Rocky Point - where the winning ticket was purchased - is that the big ticket remains unclaimed because it blew away in the wind.

Customers at the store theorize that the winner is an elderly man - possibly with a glass eye - who worked for years as a janitor at Stony Brook University Medical Center and has gone into hiding.

Perhaps no one hears more speculation than Joyce Hegedus, who works the counter at Cards and Things. Some theories overlap, Hegedus said, but you hear new ones every day.

"Have you got a big pad?" Hegedus told a pair of reporters Tuesday.

Another day passed and no one came forward to claim the prize, said lottery spokeswoman Jennifer Givner. Eight days have gone by since someone - or some group of people - became the holder of the largest single winning ticket on Long Island.

Still, patrons at Cards and Things floated numerous possibilities at the store Tuesday. Debbie Nappi-Gonzalez, an offset press operator at Stony Brook University Medical Center, said that at one point she heard a rumor that she was the winner.

It wasn't true.

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