If you bought a Mega Millions ticket from a Speedway in Des Plaines, IL in July, it may be time to dig through your glove compartment and be sure you’re not the owner of the winning slip.
Illinois Lottery officials recently said that whoever purchased the ticket from the $1.34 billion drawing has yet to come forward and claim their winnings. That total is the second-largest jackpot in the 20-year history of Mega Millions.
The grand prize grew so large because it took 29 consecutive Mega Millions drawings before a winning ticket was sold. The winning numbers were 13-36-45-57-67 and the Mega Ball was 14.
Illinois lottery winners taking time to claim prizes isn’t uncommon
The winner of the $1.34 billion drawing taking their time to step forward isn’t as unusual as it may seem. Illinois Lottery winners have 365 days to claim their prize, and millions of dollars of winning tickets go unclaimed annually in the United States.
Illinois Lottery director Harold Mays had this to say in a recent press release:
“For a prize of this magnitude, it’s not unusual for the winner to take a while to claim. I’m sure they’re going through a range of emotions.”
The news release advised those who hit it big on an Illinois Lottery game to follow these three steps before claiming their winnings:
- Write your signature on the back of the winning ticket and store it in a safe place.
- Seek professional financial and legal advice before claiming your prize.
- Call the Lottery Player Hotline at 1-800-252-1775 to schedule a private appointment to claim your winnings.
The Illinois Lottery even has a Winner’s Handbook available for download on its official website.
Could the owner of the winning ticket be avoiding the exposure?
It makes sense if the lucky person in line for a $1.34 billion payday wants to avoid the limelight from taking home the record-breaking winnings. But the Illinois Lottery allows those who win $250,000 or more to collect their big bag of money while remaining anonymous.
Mays made this comment in the press release:
“We will work closely with the winner to respect any wishes for privacy and support them in any way we can to provide a positive winning experience.”
Payout options for the $1.34 billion Mega Millions winner
Of course, not all $1.34 billion will go to the lucky owner of the golden ticket. The state of Illinois will receive a significant amount of money in taxes from the winner.
But the winner has a few options for how they’d like to receive the cash. They can opt to take a payout of $453.1 million after paying state and federal taxes. Or, they can take a 30-year annuity which would total $777 million after taxes.
We’ll find out just how much patience the lucky person has.