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US LOTTERY

Has the $1.33 billion Mega Millions jackpot winner claimed yet?

It was one of the biggest ever lottery wins, a fortune that had been months in the making, as Illinois announced the lucky ticket being sold.

Update:
Mega Millions - for the lucky winner and Uncle Sam
OLIVIER DOULIERYGetty

The Mega Millions lottery was given its name for a reason, and on Friday 29 July 2022 the third-highest jackpot ever was drawn, with a massive $1.337 billion on offer for the winning ticket. Lottery officials took their time but then it was confirmed that the winning numbers - 13, 36, 45, 57 and 67 and a Mega Ball of 14 – matched only one ticket in the entire country.

The world’s largest ever jackpot, a $1.586 billion Powerball draw from 2016, was split between three winning tickets, which means that this recent Mega Millions winner appears to have the second-largest single ticket jackpot ever recorded. No doubt they claimed it immediately, right? Well, no...

Who won the Mega Millions jackpot?

Illinois lottery officials were the ones to confirm that the billion-dollar ticket was sold at a Speedway gas station and convenience store in Des Plaines, a small city of around 60,000. The city is located roughly 17 miles northwest of Chicago and was the site for most of the filing for 1985 film The Breakfast Club, at the now closed Maine North High School.

Incredibly, to some, the lottery winner has still not yet claimed their prize, now a month after the draw. Of course it is possible that they may choose to do so anonymously to avoid the intense speculation and risk of raising scammers’ attention, but we would still know that it had been collected.

“We don’t know whether or not they even know that they won a prize,” said Harold Mays, director of the Illinois Department of the Lottery. “So, I encourage everybody to check your ticket.”

Given that the winning ticket was sold at a gas station, it is possible that the lucky winner may simply have been passing through the area and could be from further afield. Furthermore, the Speedway where the ticket was bought is only around five miles from O’Hare International Airport, meaning that the winner could have been travelling from or to... basically anywhere.

Why do some lottery winners remain anonymous?

Choosing whether of not to remain anonymous is one of a number of difficult decisions that lottery winners must make. For many people the natural inclination would be to share the good news, but this threatens to upend their lives and could invite the attention of some unsavoury characters.

“Privacy is key,” financial advisor Emily Irwin told CNBC. “That provides safety to both you and your family from scammers or other individuals who can start to prey on you.”

Given the financial implications of receiving such a gargantuan amount of money, the winner should certainly consider hiring a team of professionals to ensure that the life-changing sum of money changes things for the better. If they are not up to date with the tax implications of a billion-dollar windfall then they could end up running low on funds sooner than expected.

How long before the lottery ticket becomes invalid?

There are various rules around the length of time that lottery winners have to collect their prize, sometimes as little as just a few months.

Regarding this particular case, if you are hoping that the billion-dollar prize will go back out for people to try again, you still have some time to wait. The ticket holder has an entire year to claim so this discussion would come into play until July 2023.

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