Mega Millions winner comes forward to claim $1.5 billion jackpot in South Carolina

Posted at 7:31 AM, Mar 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-05 09:31:16-05
A window at the KC Mart that proudly displays they sold a winning Mega Millions ticket in South Carolina last year. CBS NEWS

A billion-dollar mystery in South Carolina has been solved. Lottery officials said the winner has come forward to claim the record $1.5 billion jackpot from October. He or she will remain anonymous, a right afforded to the winner by state law.

“The South Carolina Education Lottery Commission is pleased to announce that the winner of the $1.5 billion Jackpot from the October 23, 2018, Mega Millions drawing has come forward and submitted a claim for the underlying prize,” the lottery announced Monday. “As allowed by South Carolina law, the winner has elected to remain anonymous and has chosen the cash option of a one-time payment of $877,784,124. This is the largest jackpot payout to a single winner in United States history.”

The winner has retained Jason Kurland of Rivkin Radler of New York to provide legal representation and to act as spokesperson, according to CBS affiliate WLTX-TV.

Excitement and intrigue had spread across the state after it was revealed in October the winning ticket of the more than $1.5 billion jackpot was bought at the KC Mart convenience store in the small town of Simpsonville.

“It’s good attention and good for the community, you know,” KC Mart owner C.J. Patel said at the time.

“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 Monday’s 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.”

If the prize had gone unclaimed by the April 19 deadline, the $1.5 billion would have been redistributed to the 44 states — along with D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands — that take part in the Mega Millions.

The state of South Carolina was on the verge of losing out on $61 million of income tax revenue from the winner. The biggest Mega Millions jackpot to go unclaimed was a $68 million prize in 2002. The winning ticket was sold in New York.

Lottery officials said the odds of winning Mega Millions’ top prize are 1 in 302,575,350.