CHICAGO (AP) — A single ticket bought in suburban Chicago smashed the odds to win the $1.337 billion Mega Millions jackpot.
According to megamillions.com, there was a winning ticket in Friday night’s draw, which was purchased at the Speedway gas station and convenience store in Des Plaines.
The winning numbers are: 13-36-45-57-67, Mega Ball: 14.
“We are delighted to witness one of the largest jackpot wins in Mega Millions history,” Ohio Lottery Director Pat McDonald, now lead director of Mega Millions, said in a statement on the lottery’s website. “We’d love to know who won and look forward to congratulating the winner soon!”
The jackpot is the third largest lottery prize in the country. It got so big because no one has matched the game’s six selected numbers since April 15th. This is the 29th consecutive draw without a winner.
Lottery officials had estimated the jackpot at $1.28 billion, but on Saturday raised that figure to $1.337 billion.
The total prize is paid annually for 29 years for the winner of the selected annuity option. Most of the winners chose the cash option, and Friday night’s draw was estimated at $780.5 million.
The odds of winning the jackpot are 1 in 302.5 million.
According to the Illinois Lottery, the store that sells the tickets is also a pretty big winner. It will receive a million dollars just for selling tickets. A Speedway store clerk who answered the phone but declined to be named said the store had not been formally notified of the sale of winning tickets and learned about it from a reporter who asked for comment.
Mega Millions takes place in 45 states as well as Washington, DC and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The game is coordinated by the state lottery.
Illinois is one of the states where winners of more than $250,000 can choose not to be named, and Illinois Lottery spokeswoman Emilia Mazur said the vast majority of winners do so.
Even lottery officials may temporarily not know who won, because the winner doesn’t have to come forward right away. The winning ticket may have been bought by a group of people.
“We don’t know if it’s an individual or a lottery pool until the winner steps up to claim the prize,” said National Mega Millions spokeswoman Danielle Frizzi-Babb.
As of Saturday afternoon, no winner had come forward, according to Mazur.
Emily Irwin, managing director of consulting and planning at Wells Fargo Wealth & Investment Management, said Friday that winners should consider keeping a low profile and resisting a startling spending frenzy that everyone knows winners can’t afford.
“This is not the time to start calling everyone you know and say, ‘Hey, I have a big secret. Can you keep it?'” Owen said.
Illinois Lottery Director Harold Mays said the winner has yet to appear. (WLS)
This is necessary to avoid being overwhelmed by money requests.
“There are scammers and others following the big winners,” she said, acknowledging that sudden wealth could put lottery winners in physical danger.
“Privacy equals security,” she said.
One thing the winner must do right away is sign the ticket. That’s because if the ticket hasn’t been signed, it really isn’t yours. If the winner loses an unsigned ticket and another person finds and signs it, the ticket now belongs to them.
Owen suggested going a step further to survive the legal battle over ownership.
“Take a Polaroid where you’re holding it and (put it) in a safe or some other safe place,” she said.
The winners should work with a financial planner to plan their future, said Pratik Patel, director of family wealth strategy at BMO Family Office in Chicago.
“I would run a Monte Carlo market simulation,” Patel explained, an analysis of what the winner’s annual income might be and what the return on various investments might be. “What you’re doing is using analytics to inform your spending.”
Frizzi-Babb agrees it’s a good idea to talk to a financial planner.
“I suggest you do this before you step into the lottery office,” she said.
One expert who has worked with past lottery winners said winners should avoid visiting the lottery office altogether and instead send a lawyer or financial advisor to keep them anonymous — if lottery officials allow it.
“People will go to great lengths to find out who’s the winner,” said Kim Kamin, a 17-year trust and estate attorney who now teaches estate planning at Northwestern University School of Law. “There will be a lot of eyes watching.”
There’s also a question no one wants to answer at that particular time: what happens to the money when you die?
Owen says don’t ignore it; you have to take action to make sure most of your property goes to your beneficiaries and not the government.
“You need a manager who specializes in the field and understands the world,” Patel said. “A person making $60,000 a year may need some type of professional manager, and they may want to turn to someone who is super wealthy.”
Whatever the winner does, the important thing is to do it slowly.
“You can absolutely indulge, but let’s be smart,” Patel said. “It’s a lot of money, but there are limits until you figure out what you can afford.”
For example, he said, consider leasing a private jet before diving in and buying.
“You might be interested in owning your favorite basketball team,” he warns, “but if it’s going to cost you all your money, it’s probably not a good idea.”
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