Lottery officials confirmed on Wednesday morning that one winning Mega Millions ticket worth over $1.5 billion was sold in South Carolina.
According to ABC News, Tuesday night’s jackpot easily became the highest ever Mega Millions prize in history, beating the previous record of $656 million set in March 2012. The prize of $1.537 billion, however, was only a close second to the Powerball jackpot of $1.586 billion that set the world record as the biggest lottery prize in January 2016.
Although the holder or holders of the Mega Millions winning ticket have the option of accepting the prize as an estimated annuity of $1.537 billion, with one immediate payment and annual graduated payments for the next 29 years, most lottery winners opt for the one-time lump-sum cash payment, which, for Tuesday night’s draw, was worth approximately $878 million, according to CBS News.
“The moment we’ve been waiting for finally arrived, and we couldn’t be more excited,” read a statement from Mega Millions Group lead director Gordon Medenica.
“We’re so happy for the winner or winners, and we know the South Carolina Education Lottery can’t wait to meet them.”
South Carolina lottery officials told CBS News that the person or people with the winning ticket have a maximum of 180 days to claim their prize and have the option to remain anonymous. Per policy, the retailer that sold the ticket will receive a $50,000 cut after the winner or winners claim their prize.
“Our board has a policy to protect the winner because of all the risk associated with having that much money,” South Carolina Education Lottery executive director William Hogan Brown said Wednesday on Good Morning America.
Likewise, South Carolina Education Lottery spokeswoman Holli Armstrong explained to CBS News that the exact address, or even city and county, of the retailer that sold the Mega Millions winning ticket cannot be disclosed due to “security procedures.” She added that this was the first time in Mega Millions history that a winning ticket was sold in the state. Prior to Tuesday night, South Carolina’s record lottery prize was a Powerball jackpot worth $399 million.
This week’s Mega Millions winning numbers were announced on Tuesday night as 5, 28, 62, 65, 70, with a Mega Ball of 5. As noted by ABC News, the last time someone won the Mega Millions jackpot was on July 24, when 11 co-workers from California split the total prize of $543 million. Friday’s drawing will see the prize reset to $40 million, or $22.8 million for those who choose the one-time cash payment.
Regardless of the prize, the odds of winning the jackpot in Mega Millions are extremely slim, at about 1 in 302 million.