Three people will share a record $640 million US lottery jackpot, organisers said today, confirming that the winning tickets were sold in the states of Illinois, Kansas and Maryland.

"Three tickets matched all six numbers," the company said.

The winning numbers - 2, 4, 23, 38, 46 with Mega Ball 23 - were announced at 11pm local time (4am Irish time) last night.

Experts have warned that it could be days or even weeks before the winners show up to claim the prize as victorious ticket holders usually tend to handle legal matters stemming from gaining so much money before coming forward.

The jackpot hit a record level because no one had matched the magic five numbers and Mega Ball since 24 January - a full 18 draws with no winner.

Given the pace of ticket buying, the prize climbed inexorably higher and late yesterday tickets for the mega jackpot were reportedly selling at the unprecedented rate of $4 million per hour.

Mega Millions is played in 42 US states plus the national capital Washington and the US Virgin Islands, with tickets selling for $1.

The lucky winner gets to choose between an immediate lump sum option or the full amount disbursed over 26 annual payments. The prize is subject to a severe knock in federal and state taxes.

The previous US record draw, in 2007, was $390 million.