After nearly three months of anticipation, American lottery players finally heard the announcement they’ve all been waiting for: the historic Mega Millions jackpot has been hit.
The Mega Millions drawing held Tuesday, October 23 produced the numbers 5, 28, 62, 65, and 70, along with a Mega Ball number of 5 and Megaplier number of 3x. With that, a run of 25 consecutive fruitless drawings ended, thanks to a single winning ticket sold in the South Carolina town of Simpsonville.
The odds of landing all six numbers correctly stood at a staggering 1 in 302,575,350 – or 1,472 times more than the average person’s likelihood of perishing in a plane crash.
That ticket is now worth $1.537 billion, making it the second largest lotto jackpot ever awarded in the United States. The all-time American lotto record of $1.586 billion was paid out to three separate Powerball tickets in January of 2016.
Gordon Medenica – who serves as lead director of the Mega Millions Group and director of Maryland Lottery and Gaming – confirmed the winning ticket’s sale in a press release:
“The moment we’ve been waiting for finally arrived, and we couldn’t be more excited.
This is truly a historic occasion.
We’re so happy for the winner, and we know the South Carolina Education Lottery can’t wait to meet the lucky ticket holder.”
Mega Millions – a multijurisdictional lottery program available in 44 states, Washington D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands – began its run as “The Big Game” in 1996. With the recent jackpot, Mega Millions now accounts for three of the five largest American lotto jackpots in history.
The winning ticket was sold by the KC Mart #7, a convenience store in Simpsonville owned by proprietor C.J. Patel.
Currently, Patel is the only person to publicly celebrate the feat, as his store will receive a $50,000 bonus payment for being the lucky ticket’s distributor.
Patel – who emigrated from India in 1996 and built a business alongside his wife Jayshree – told the assembled national media that he would “do some good with that money.”
But when asked if he recalled the identity of the winner, Patel wasn’t able to reveal any new information:
“I have no clue. We had a lot of customers yesterday, so I have no idea.
Whoever the winner is hopefully spends that money locally and (does) some good stuff for the community.”
South Carolina is one of eight states where lottery winners can elect to remain anonymous, along with Delaware, Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, North Dakota, Ohio and Texas.
Tony Cooper – chief operating officer of the South Carolina Education Lottery – issued a press release confirming that the winner’s identity remained a mystery:
“Until the winner comes forward, presents the ticket and the ticket is validated as the winning ticket – there is no winner to announce.”
And while the winner has 180 days from the drawing date to redeem their winning ticket, Cooper advised them to exercise caution and common sense before coming forward:
“We want you to take a deep breath, and before you come forward to claim the prize, sign the back of the ticket, secure the ticket in a safe location and seek council from a trusted financial planner, CPA, or lawyer.
One of the first decisions the winner must make is a choice between the cash option of approximately $878 million or the annuity, the full jackpot amount paid out in yearly payments over 29 years.”
Mega Millions tickets can be purchased online in five states – Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, and New Hampshire – but the vast majority of topline jackpot winners have been purchased through brick and mortar outlets.
In January of last year, a player in Michigan won $1 million on the Mega Millions after buying tickets online. And earlier this month, a German player set a new Guinness World Record after winning a $105 million jackpot through the LottoLand online service.