It has been 22 days since someone won the $1.5 billion Mega Million jackpot, and lottery officials are still wondering who the winner is.
The winning numbers — 5, 28, 62, 65 and 70, with a Mega Ball of 5 — were announced October 23, but the winner remains a mystery.
The winning ticket was sold at a KC Mart convenience store in Simpsonville, South Carolina. It was the largest U.S. jackpot won by a single ticket and the nation’s second-largest jackpot ever.
“They still have over 100 days to come forward,” Holli Armstrong, a South Carolina Education Lottery spokeswoman, told CNN on Wednesday.
That’s because the winner has 180 days from the draw date to claim the prize, she said. In doing so, the new billionaire could remain anonymous.
“The winner has an option on the claim form to check ‘yes’ or ‘no’ for publicity,” Armstrong said. “If the winner declines publicity, we respect their wishes and do not release their name.”
Though surprised that no one has shown yet up to claim the money, Armstrong said people often take their time to come forward.
“We don’t speculate why they haven’t come forward. The winner should know how they will handle the money accordingly, so is not uncommon they take their time to claim it,” she said.
And this will be a lot of money to handle. The winner can pick between a one-time cash option of $878 million, before taxes, or the full $1.5 billion, before taxes, paid in annuities over 29 years.
“We encourage the winner, whoever they are, to sign the back of their ticket, put it in a safe place and speak to someone they trust for guidance before claiming the money,” Armstrong said.
It’s very likely the person who won will come forward, she said. But if not, the money will go to a great cause.
“The funds are returned to the states that sell Mega Millions tickets,” Armstrong said. “In South Carolina, the unclaimed prize money goes into an unclaimed prize fund that supports education.”
Billions of dollars in lottery prizes each year go unclaimed, lottery expert Brett Jacobson said, but the big winners almost always collect their money.