$1.5 Billion Mega Millions Jackpot Still Unclaimed

Friday November 16th 2018

The winner of a phenomenal $1.537 billion Mega Millions jackpot in the October 23 drawing has still not stepped forward to claim their new fortune.

The winning ticket was sold at KC Mart #7 in Simpsonville, a small town in South Carolina, and was the state's first Mega Millions jackpot win. The winner has 180 days to come forward.

South Carolina is one of only a few states that let lottery winners stay anonymous when they claim, along with Delaware, Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, North Dakota, Ohio and Texas.

The jackpot-winning ticket matched all five white balls plus the yellow Mega Ball in the October 23 drawing. The winning numbers were 5, 28, 62, 65, 70 and Mega Ball 5.

The jackpot for the October 23 drawing was by far the largest Mega Millions prize ever, blowing away the previous record of $656 million from March 2012. However, it fell just short of the all-time lottery jackpot record: a Powerball top prize of $1.586 billion from January 2016.

South Carolina lottery officials became aware that a player in the state had won the jackpot 30 minutes after the drawing – but it was several hours before they learned that SC was the only state with a jackpot-winning ticket.

 “We are one of the luckiest states,” said Tony Cooper, the chief operating officer of the South Carolina Education Lottery, during a press conference.

“We don’t know, at this point, whether it’s a one person or a group of persons or anything about the identity of the player, but we do know where the winning ticket was sold,” he said.

Cooper offered the winner some advice on what to do next. “So if the winner is out there today listening to us, we would like to say to you: take a deep breath; put that ticket in a secure location," Cooper said. "Consult with a trusted advisor, a legal advisor, a trusted financial advisor; sign the back of that ticket.

“Take a few days - take a deep breath again; call the lottery. We will tell you who to go to, how to do it. It takes time,” Cooper stated. “We encourage you to play responsibly, but we also encourage you to win responsibly.

“It is a big, big win for South Carolina - for its players, for its retailers and more importantly for education because this is the South Carolina education lottery,” Cooper said.

The winner can choose either a lump sum single payment of approximately $878 million, or opt for the annuity and receive the full advertised jackpot of $1.537 billion paid annually over 30 years. Nearly $300 million in state and federal taxes will be withheld if the winner decides to take the lump sum, more if they opt for the annuity.

C.J. Patel, the owner of the store where the winning ticket was sold, will also receive a bonus of $50,000 when the prize is claimed. This is the maximum amount that can be received by a store that sells a jackpot-winning ticket. Stores receive 1% of the value of a winning ticket for prizes over $10,000.

Patel is an Indian immigrant who has lived in the U.S. for 20 years. He bought the KC Mart a little over three years ago. Patel said that he doesn’t know who the winner is, or if the win resulted from a Quick Pick or the player’s personal lucky numbers. Patel got a call from lottery officials at 5:00 AM on the morning after the draw notifying him that he had sold the winning ticket.

Patel said that the win attracts more people to his store. “You know, it’s good for the customer, especially [if] it’s my customer, because he’ll keep coming [back] and just that’s good for the business,” Patel said. His store also sold a $250,000 winning ticket about a year ago.

He also hopes the win will benefit the local area. “Hopefully [the winner] will spend that money locally and do something good for the community,” Patel added.

Last month’s huge Mega Millions jackpot caused long lines to buy tickets around the country as players dreamed of scooping the amazing top prize.

The jackpot had been climbing since July, when an office lottery pool in California won $543 million.

The winning ticket is still out there, so now is a great time to check your Mega Millions tickets for the past 365 days!

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