Following Friday night’s $1.337 billion Mega Millions lottery drawing, one lucky lottery ticket holder in Illinois might soon become a billionaire.
The winning numbers, 13, 36, 45, 57, and 67, along with a gold Mega Ball of 14, match a single ticket purchased at a Speedway gas station in Des Plaines, Illinois, some 17 miles northwest of Chicago, according to lottery officials.
Harold Mays, head of the Illinois Department of the Lottery, stated during a news conference on Saturday that the winner has not yet claimed the award.
“We don’t know whether or not they even know that they won a prize,” Mays said. “So, I encourage everybody to check your ticket.”
Mega Millions is played in 45 states as well as Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The game is coordinated by state lotteries.
Illinois is among the states where winners of more than $250,000 can choose to not reveal their names and Illinois Lottery spokeswoman Emilia Mazur said the vast majority of those winners do just that.
The jackpot is the third-highest lottery reward in American history, and the winner, who presumably bought around $2 for the ticket, has the option of receiving a lump sum payment of $780.5 million or regular payments over the course of 30 years.
Even lottery officials may not know for a while who won because winners don’t have to come forward straight away. And the winning ticket may have been bought by a group of people.
“We won’t know whether it’s an individual or it’s a lottery pool until the winner comes forward to claim their prize,” National Mega Millions spokeswoman Danielle Frizzi-Babb said.
If the winner selects the more well-liked lump sum option, as “Shark Tank” investor Kevin O’Leary advises, he or she will be required to take into account a mandatory federal tax withholding of 24 percent.
State income tax is also likely to be due by the winner since, if they reside in Illinois, their earnings are subject to Illinois’ 4.95 percent income tax rate, and they may owe even more if they do.
As a result, the winner should anticipate paying at least approximately $226 million in taxes, which reduces their take-home pay to about $554.5 million, still a sizeable figure that might change their life.
According to a statement released by Mega Millions on Saturday, 26 tickets won second-tier prizes worth a combined $2 million or $1 million, while 14,391,740 tickets won something on Friday night over nine different reward tiers.
If you’re one of the lucky winners, especially if you’re the unidentified person who scooped the jackpot, experts advise that you immediately take precautions to safeguard your ticket and personal information.