Hate to break it to you, but you’re not the nation’s newest millionaire — unless you bought the one Mega Millions ticket in South Carolina with the magic numbers that won a near-US record $1.537 billion jackpot.
Should the unidentified winner pick a one-time cash option, the ticket holder would walk away with a cool $878 million. Otherwise, the full $1.537 billion jackpot would be paid in annuities over 29 years.
The numbers drawn Tuesday night were 5, 28, 62, 65 and 70, and the Mega Ball was 5. Only one ticket matched all the numbers to win the jackpot, Mega Millions said. A whopping 36 tickets nationwide matched five of the six numbers for second-prize tickets.
The questions now are: Who won, and where in South Carolina was the lucky ticket bought?
We might be waiting awhile for those answers. The winner (or winners, if the buyer was part of a pool) has 180 days to claim the prize, South Carolina Education Lottery Executive William Hogan Brown told ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
And South Carolina is one of several states to let lottery winners withhold their names from the public, so there’s no guarantee the identity of this winner or winners will be released.
“Our board has a policy to protect the winner because of all the risks associated with having that much money,” Brown told “Good Morning America.”
As for which store sold the ticket, that could be publicized around “lunchtime,” Brown said.
The jackpot fell just short of the all-time US lottery record, set in January 2016 when three winning Powerball tickets split a $1.586 billion prize. Mega Millions officials had earlier estimated that Tuesday night’s prize would reach $1.6 billion, but the total wasn’t finalized until after sales stopped shortly before the drawing.
Still, the prize smashes the old Mega Millions record jackpot of $656 million, set in March 2012.
“This is truly a historic occasion. We’re so happy for the winner, and we know the South Carolina Education Lottery can’t wait to meet the lucky ticket holder,” said Gordon Medenica, lead director of the Mega Millions Group.
Jackpot had been building since July
Mega Millions is played in 44 states as well as Washington, D.C., and the US Virgin Islands. A ticket costs $2 — and the winner beat the odds of 1 in 302 million.
The jackpot has been rolling since July 24 when a California office pool of 11 co-workers shared a $543 million prize.
The next Mega Millions drawing is Friday, and the jackpot will reset itself to $40 million — or $22.8 million cash.
But wait … there’s still the Powerball
Mega Millions aside, the Powerball drawing is Wednesday, and the jackpot for that is an estimated $620 million.
The Powerball has climbed since the last winning ticket in New York took home the jackpot in August, and it has had 20 drawings since then without a winner. Wednesday’s will be the third-largest Powerball jackpot.