Someone in Florida has won the $1.58 billion Mega Millions jackpot and before too long we will know the name of that person. But had someone in Illinois have won this, the third-largest prize in lottery history, could they have remained anonymous?
According to the Florida Lottery, a grocery store in Neptune Beach sold the winning ticket. The winning numbers drawn Tuesday night were: 13, 19, 20, 32, and 33, with the Mega Ball being 14.
We don’t know, yet, who bought that winning ticket. However, we will in less than a year. Florida isn’t a state where winners can remain anonymous forever. Would that have been the case if the winner came from Illinois?
Can a lottery jackpot winner remain anonymous in Illinois?
One lucky Floridian is likely planning an extravagant vacation after winning Tuesday’s record-setting Mega Millions jackpot. Based on Florida Lottery rules, the winner will eventually have to come forward publicly if they want to claim their prize.
According to the Florida Lottery, winners have 180 days, or around six months, from when the winning numbers were picked to claim the jackpot. State law says that the winner’s name and the city they live in must be disclosed to anyone who requests the information. However, street addresses and phone numbers are kept confidential.
That is very different from how the Illinois Lottery would handle it. In Illinois, winners of $250,000 or more can ask to have their names and hometown kept confidential. They need to make that request on the Illinois Lottery Winner Claim Form. It is also essential that they make that request at the time of claiming the prize.
To assure the public that prizes are won and awarded, the Illinois Lottery will often publish winner information, including the winner’s name, home city and the amount won. However, the lottery does not post winners’ addresses, phone numbers, or other personal information. Furthermore, multimillion-dollar winners may be asked to participate in publicity events, like publicly receiving an oversized souvenir check.
The story of the largest lottery prize ever won from a ticket sold in Illinois
In July of 2022, two people shared a single $1.34 billion-winning Mega Millions ticket purchased from a Speedway in Des Plaines. It is the largest lottery prize ever won from a ticket purchased in Illinois history. It was, at the time, the second-largest jackpot in Mega Millions history.
The winners opted for a $780.5 million lump sum payment, before taxes, rather than a 30-year annuity for the entire $1.34 billion.
And they opted to remain anonymous.
Interesting anonymity rules in other states
According to Mega Millions, whether a winner remains anonymous all comes down to their state’s public disclosure laws. Some are required to publicly identify winners, while others are not.
For example, in California, where a winner has yet to come forward to claim a record $1.08 billion Powerball ticket sold in July, disclosure laws require the California Lottery to share the winner’s full name and where they bought the ticket. If you win the lottery in Colorado, your first name and the first letter of your last name are listed on the state lottery’s website. Meanwhile, your name and city of residence are made public in New York, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wisconsin.
The rules vary from state to state and can sometimes depend on how much money you win. In Minnesota, winners of more than $10,000 can opt to remain anonymous, but those winning $10,000 or less can’t. Winners of $600 or more are kept confidential for 90 days in Arizona. If you win $100,000 or more, you can remain anonymous permanently. However, your city and county will be released.
Here is a list of some states where you can opt to remain anonymous:
- New Jersey
- North Dakota
- South Carolina
Mega Millions history made
The odds of winning the Mega Millions jackpot are estimated to be one in 300 million. So having someone nail the numbers is already a wild feat. However, before this week’s big win in Florida, there had been 31 straight Mega Millions drawings since the last time someone won the game’s jackpot on April 18. That just adds another layer of improbability.
The unknown winner will only get the $1.58 billion payout if they opt for the annuity option, meaning the money is doled out over 30 years. However, most people go for the lump sum cash option, which in this case was an estimated $783.3 million before taxes.
The prize is the third-largest seen in US history. In November, a winning Powerball ticket sold in Altadena, CA netted a local man a record-high $2.04 billion jackpot. Another $1.59 billion prize was split among three winners in California, Florida and Tennessee in January 2016.