Officials say someone has won the world’s largest ever lottery jackpot – $1.6bn. Mega Millions officials said a ticket purchased in South Carolina matches all six numbers in Tuesday night’s draw.
The winning numbers were 5, 28, 62, 65, 70 and Mega Ball 5.
The lucky player overcame miserable odds. The chance of matching all six numbers and winning the top prize was one in 302.5 million. Mega Millions is played in 44 states as well as Washington, DC, and the US Virgin Islands. It is likely to be days or even weeks before a winner steps forward to claim the prize.
Lottery officials and financial managers encourage people to take time to map out a strategy for investing their hundreds of millions of dollars, and winners must deal with security concerns befitting someone who suddenly is immensely wealthy.
Depending on the state, winners have from 180 days to a year to claim their prize. In eight states – Delaware, Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina and Texas – winners can remain anonymous, but in the others their identities will become public.
The Mega Millions jackpot grew so large because it had been nearly three months since a player had matched all six numbers and won the top prize. The last time that happened was July 24, when 11 co-workers from California won a $543m prize.
Although Tuesday’s jackpot was extraordinarily large, it is no fluke. It reflects a trend towards ever-growing lottery prizes due to changes in the game that worsened the odds with hopes that bigger jackpots would result in better sales.
Officials with the Powerball game were the first to make that move in October 2015 when changing the odds of winning the jackpot from one in 175 million to one in 292.2 million. Mega Millions followed suit in October 2017, resulting in the odds worsening from one in 259 million to one in 302.5 million.
The $1.6bn prize reflects the annuity option, paid over 29 years. However, nearly all winners take the cash option, which for Tuesday’s drawing was an estimated $913m.
While most attention has been on the Mega Millions game, Powerball has also been soaring. The estimated prize for Powerball’s annuity option in Wednesday night’s drawing is $620m, with a cash prize of $354.3m.