A winner has finally stepped forward to claim the record $1.5 billion Mega Millions jackpot from last October.
Lottery officials announced Monday that the individual in question had chosen to remain anonymous and opted to take home the cash option of $877,784,124. It's the single largest payout to one person in U.S. history.
"We are delighted that the winner is a South Carolinian and has come forward to claim this remarkable prize," Hogan Brown, the Commission’s Executive Director, said in a statement. "We offer sincere congratulations and are very happy that one of our South Carolina retailers, KC Mart in Simpsonville, will receive $50,000 for selling the claimed winning ticket.
"The State of South Carolina will benefit from $61 million that will be collected in income taxes from the winner. We respect the winner’s decision to remain anonymous, and we will honor the winner’s wishes."
The winner told the lottery commission they let another customer buy a Mega Millions ticket before they did at the store last October, according to a press release.
The anonymous winner has retained a lawyer, Jason Kurland of Rivkin Radler in New York, to act as their spokesperson.
Mystery has surrounded the winner, who failed to come forward for months after the Oct. 23 drawing.
Inside Edition went to Simpsonville, South Carolina, where the ticket was purchased, to ask around about the mysterious winner. Rumor had it at the time, he was an auto mechanic who quit his job the day he discovered he'd won.
Mayor Janice Curtis was tight-lipped. “I have no idea who it is and if I did know who it was I wouldn't tell ya,” she told Inside Edition.
The deadline to claim the winnings was April 21. If the jackpot had not been claimed by then, each participating state in the Mega Millions game would have gotten back the money it contributed to the jackpot. The winning numbers were 5, 28, 62, 65, 70 and Mega Ball 5.
Experts had advised that the winner wait until 2019 to claim the prize. Taxes for monies claimed in 2018 would need to be paid in April, whereas taxes for funds collected in 2019 would not be paid until April 2020.
“That’s 16 more months it can sit in a bank and collect interest,” Joe Poore, a senior manager with Elliot Davis, a Greenville-based accounting firm, told The State last year. “That could be a difference of millions of dollars.”
Further details were not immediately available.