$375 Million Ohio Mega Millions Jackpot Claimed by Trust

Thursday January 23rd 2020

The winner of the December 2019 Mega Millions jackpot, the biggest lottery prize ever won in Ohio, has claimed via a trust and chosen the cash option.

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The Great Hope Trust, which lists Cleveland attorney Brian C. Mulhall as its trustee, will receive $182,555,782 after 28 percent in state and federal taxes are withheld.

The lucky ticket matched all six numbers in the December 17, 2019 draw: main numbers 22, 30, 53, 55 and 56, and Mega Ball 16.

The winning ticket was sold at Giant Eagle, located at 8383 Tyler Boulevard in Mentor. The store was paid a $100,000 bonus for selling the ticket.

Ohio is one of just nine states that allows lottery winners to stay anonymous without any conditions on the level of winnings. The others are Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, New Jersey, North Dakota, South Carolina, Texas and Wyoming. New Jersey is the latest state to allow anonymity - its law just came into effect on Tuesday.

So why use a trust to claim? Under Ohio law, only three individuals can claim a prize: the ticket holder, a representative of the estate if the winner is deceased, or the trustee of a trust. The name of the person making the claim goes on the public record.

Therefore, in order for a winner to keep their identity private, they need to use a trust to claim. In that case, the name of the trustee (typically a lawyer) is the one made public, not the name of the actual winner (the beneficial owner of the trust).

The winner does have to provide their name and address to the Lottery Commission, but the information is kept private.

Ohio lottery winners seem to have a sense of humor about their choice of trust names. Cinncinnati attorney John Brinker recalled the time a 65-year-old man who had won $650,000 asked for help coming up with a name for his trust.

Brinker looked at the winner and the name popped into his head right away: "The Wish This Had Happened Sooner Trust." Brinker laughed as he recalled, "The money would have been more enjoyable if he had been a little younger when he won."

Some of the wackier trust names chosen by Buckeye State winners include The Loves Frogs Trust, The Captain Crunch Trust, and the Banana Head Trust.

On a more serious note, D.J. Gels, who won a $24 million Powerball jackpot in 1999 and still lives in the Dayton area, had this advice for other winners: don't make impulsive decisions. Gels said that he weighed up his options carefully before claiming. He took the annuity rather than the lump sum, partly to make it tougher to waste his wealth. He also retired from his job as a maintenance supervisor at the age of 43.

Experts agree that one of the 10 things winners should do is hit the brakes on making major life changes right after their win, to allow them to get clear on their goals and create a financial plan.

The Mega Millions jackpot stands at $130 million for the next drawing on Friday, January 24, and there's still time to get your tickets - you can even avoid the snow by buying them online.

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