# Aligning equations in 3 columns

I want to align two equations in 3 columns (so empty space in the middle). How do I align another equation in the next column with the empty space?

\begin{align*}
a&=144 & b&=51666 \\
& c&=d &
\end{align*}

Above is the faulty code. I thought that if I left empty ampersands, the second ampersand, which is where I want the alignment to be, would ignore the first alignment point and skip to the second one. There's clearly something wrong with the logic but I can't figure out what.

Each ampersand & provides a right-and-left alignment around it. Here's what you're looking for in your align construction:

\documentclass{article}
\usepackage{amsmath}

\begin{document}

\begin{align*}
a &= 144 &   &    & b &= 51666 \\
&      & c &= d
\end{align*}

\end{document}