The winner of the $1.5 billion Mega Millions jackpot came forward on Monday after nearly 5 months of mystery about their identity. The winning numbers for the biggest single-person jackpot in lottery history were drawn on October 23 in South Carolina.
The time for the winner to claim the ticket had almost elapsed, because winners have only 180 days to claim the prize. If the prize is not claimed by then, the ticket holder might as well have never bought the winning ticket.
Rougly 135 days has elapsed since the drawing, so if the person had waited another month-and-a-half, they would not have been able to cash out the ticket.
The Mega Millions jackpot winner opted for the lump-sum cash payment of near $878 million. Powerball had a single-drawing jackpot of $1.6 billion before, but three different people won that cash prize and ended up splitting the cash.
Mega Millions Winner Remains Anonymous
The mysterious winner chose to remain anonymous, so the public likely will never know who the winner was. South Carolina allows lottery winners to choose whether their name is released. Because thieves, robbers, scam artists, and long-lost cousins often target lottery winners, many experts recommend a person choose to remain anonymous.
At least with the emergence that a real person claimed the prize, speculation about what happened to the winner will end. Without a claimant, people have speculated the person died, was incapacitated, lost the ticket, or never checked their winning numbers. Whether an explanation for the 5-month delay ever emerges remains to be seen.
Hogan Brown Announces Lump-Sum Payout
Hogan Brown, the executive director of the South Carolina Lottery Commission, said in a press release, “We are delighted that the winner is a South Carolinian and has come forward to claim this remarkable prize. We respect the winner’s decision to remain anonymous, and we will honor the winner’s wishes.”
Whether a person gives their name and takes their picture with the big check, lottery operators love to publicize when a big jackpot has been handed out. While it cannot be said handing over an $878 million check is free publicity, it is a good way to publicize to the buying public that someone else can win a big prize next time.
$50k for KC Mart, $61mil for South Carolina
Some details are known. The winning ticket was bought at a KC Mart convenience store in Simpsonville, South Carolina. The KC Mart will receive $50,000 for having printed the winning lottery ticket.
South Carolina is a winner in the process, too. Because the winning ticket was sold in-state, the state government collects tens of millions of dollars. The lottery officials added, “The State of South Carolina will benefit from $61 million that will be collected in income taxes from the winner.”
How the Winner’s Numbers Were Chosen
The winner even told lottery officials some of the circumstances of how the ticket was bought. The anonymous winner described how events throughout the day led up to their buying the lottery ticket at that time and at that place. In retrospect, it seemed like destiny was at play.
Before buying his or her ticket, the winner said he or she let another customer in front of them in line. Had they not, the lotto machine would have printed out a different set of numbers. The random number generators in lottery machines generate a new number thousands of times per second. If a person does not have a ticket printed out at that fraction of a second, they would not have received the winning numbers.
The lottery officials read out a statement which said, “A simple act of kindness led to an amazing outcome.“
Winning Mega Millions Numbers
The winning numbers in the October 23, 2018 Mega Millions record drawing were 5, 28, 62, 65 and 70. The Mega Ball number was 5. The odds of a player holding those exact numbers is 290 million to 1.