Lotto players wait in line to purchase lottery tickets for the Mega Millions lottery at Lichines Liquor & Deli, Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018, in Sacramento, Calif. Lottery players will have the chance at winning an estimated $1.6 billion in Tuesday’s Mega Millions drawing. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Lotto players wait in line to purchase lottery tickets for the Mega Millions lottery at Lichines Liquor & Deli, Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018, in Sacramento, Calif. Lottery players will have the chance at winning an estimated $1.6 billion in Tuesday’s Mega Millions drawing. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

South Carolina convenience store sold $1.537 billion ticket

Unless the winner chooses to come forward, the world may never know who won.

A flimsy little piece of paper that crossed the counter of a convenience store on a country road in South Carolina is now worth $1.537 billion, so lottery officials could hardly be blamed Wednesday if anxiety tinged their excitement.

They said a single ticket sold at the KC Mart in Simpsonville, South Carolina, matched all six numbers to win the Mega Millions jackpot.

And unless the winner chooses to come forward, the world may never know who won.

“Our message to the $1.5 BILLION #MegaMillions jackpot winner: Sign the back of the ticket, place the ticket in a safe location, speak with a trusted advisor and CALL THE LOTTERY at 1-866-736-9819. Take a deep breath and enjoy the moment!” the South Carolina Education Lottery tweeted.

The prize is extraordinary by any measure, but particularly so for South Carolina, where it would be enough for an exceedingly generous winner to shower roughly $307 on each of the state’s five million people. It’s about as much as 20 per cent of the $8 billion that state lawmakers have to spend each year.

An earlier Mega Millions estimate of $1.6 billion would have been a world record for lotteries, but actual sales came in below the $1.586 billion Powerball jackpot prize shared by winners in California, Florida and Tennessee in January of 2016.

“The final total was less than the $1.6 billion estimate,” confirmed Carol Gentry, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Lottery, which leads a consortium of state lotteries participating in the Mega Millions jackpot.

“Estimates are based on historical patterns,” she explained Wednesday morning in a phone interview with The Associated Press. “The jackpot’s been rolling since it was hit in July in California, but there are few precedents for a jackpot of this size. Typically, about 70 per cent of sales occur on the drawing day, so forecasting precise numbers in advance can be difficult. That’s why we always use the term estimate.”

Related: $1.537 billion U.S. Mega Millions winning ticket sold in South Carolina

Related: Mega Millions, Powerball prizes come down to math, long odds

The ticket is worth about $877.8 million in a lump-sum cash payment, which most winners choose to take, rather than collect the full amount in annual payments over three decades.

South Carolina is one of eight states — along with Delaware, Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, North Dakota, Ohio and Texas — where winners can remain anonymous. The winner also has up to 180 days to claim the prize.

“Our board has a policy to protect the winner because of all the risk associated with having that much money,” South Carolina Education Lottery Director William Hogan Brown told ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

South Carolina’s previous record-holder — someone who bought a $400 million Powerball ticket in the Columbia area in 2013 — never wanted to be identified.

Holli Armstrong, a state lottery spokeswoman, said the retailer will get a $50,000 payout. TV trucks and gawkers flooded the parking lot ahead of a news conference at the KC Mart and Exxon station, which sits at the bend of a road where Greenville’s suburban sprawl gives way to farm fields.

The biggest Mega Millions jackpot winner prior to this was a $656 million ticket sold back in 2012, Gentry said, “so it’s a record for Mega Millions and it came very close to breaking the world record of all the jackpots.”

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 is 1 in 302.5 million.

Mega Millions is played in 44 states as well as Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Lottery officials and financial managers encourage winners to take time to map out a strategy for investing their hundreds of millions of dollars, and to prepare for security concerns befitting someone who suddenly becomes immensely wealthy.

The Mega Millions jackpot grew so large because no player had matched all six numbers and won the top prize since July 24, when 11 co-workers from California won a $543 million prize.

Although Tuesday’s jackpot was extraordinarily large, it’s no fluke. It reflects a trend toward 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 1 in 175 million to 1 in 292.2 million. Mega Millions followed suit in October 2017, resulting in the odds worsening from 1 in 259 million to 1 in 302.5 million.

While most attention has been on the Mega Millions game, Powerball also has been soaring. The estimated prize for Powerball’s annuity option in Wednesday night’s drawing is $620 million, with a cash prize of $354.3 million.

Some KC Mart customers Wednesday were hoping some Mega Millions luck would rub off as they played the Powerball.

“Sell me another lucky one. Now I know y’all have it!” Chase Hatcher said, trading smiles across the counter with Jee and Twinkle Patel.

___

Contributors include Associated Press Writers Jack Jones in Columbia and Michael Warren in Atlanta.

___

Jeffrey Collins, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

Media at left, record people entering the KC Mart in Simpsonville, S.C., on Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2018, after it was announced the winning Mega Millions lottery ticket was purchased at the store. AP (Photo/Jeffrey Collins)

Media at left, record people entering the KC Mart in Simpsonville, S.C., on Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2018, after it was announced the winning Mega Millions lottery ticket was purchased at the store. AP (Photo/Jeffrey Collins)

Just Posted

file photo
UPDATE: Leduc RCMP, Millet Fire Department and more on scene at serious multi-vehicle collision

Traffic is expected to be diverted for several hours and alternative travel routes are recommended.

File photo
Leduc RCMP request assistance to identify armed robbery suspect

Leduc RCMP are searching for suspect involved in an armed robbery at the Leduc Giant Tiger.

Alberta is now below 3,000 active cases of COVID-19, as the province reported 2,639 Wednesday. (NIAID-RML via AP)
Red Deer below 100 active COVID-19 cases for first time since March

69.7 per cent of Albertans 12 and over have at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine

Premier Jason Kenney says the provincial government is doing everything it can to encourage Albertans to get vaccinated. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Travel prizes added to Alberta’s vaccine lottery

More than 40 travel rewards available for those who are fully vaccinated

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

A vial containing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is shown at a vaccination site in Marcq en Baroeul, outside Lille, northern France, Saturday, March 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Michel Spingler
mRNA vaccines ‘preferred’ for all Canadians, including as 2nd dose after AstraZeneca: NACI

New recommendations prioritizes Pfizer, Moderna in almost all cases

House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., center left, reaches over to Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., joined by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., center, and members of the Congressional Black Caucus as they celebrate the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act that creates a new federal holiday to commemorate June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers brought the news of freedom to enslaved Black people after the Civil War, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, June 17, 2021. It’s the first new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was created in 1983. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Biden to sign bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday

New American stat marks the nation’s end of slavery

A screenshot of the First Peoples Cultural Councils First Peoples’ Map. (First Peoples Cultural Council)
Online resource blends B.C.-Alberta’s Indigenous languages, art and culture

Advisor says initiative supports the urgent need to preserve Indigenous languages

A plane is silhouetted as it takes off from Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C., May 13, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Report calls for airlines to refund passengers for flights halted due to COVID-19

Conclusion: federal help should be on the condition airlines immediately refund Canadian travellers

Green party Leader Annamie Paul speaks during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, June 15, 2021. Paul has survived another day of party strife after a planned ouster shifted course, leaving her with a tenuous grip on power ahead of a likely federal election this year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Green Leader Annamie Paul blasts ‘racist,’ ‘sexist’ party execs who sought ouster

Fallout has continued, with two of the federal council’s members resigning

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and U.S President Joe Biden shake hands during their meeting at the ‘Villa la Grange’ in Geneva, Switzerland in Geneva, Switzerland, Wednesday, June 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, Pool)
Biden says meeting with Putin not a ‘kumbaya moment’

But U.S. president asserted Russian leader is interested in improved relations, averting a Cold War

Most Read