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

The Government of Alberta identified 115 new COVID-19 cases Sunday, bringing the provincial total to 3,089.
(Black Press file photo)
Red Deer drops to 71 active cases of COVID-19

Province adds 127 new cases of the virus

Police officers and their dogs undergo training at the RCMP Police Dog Services training centre in Innisfail, Alta., on Wednesday, July 15, 2015. Mounties say they are searching for an armed and dangerous man near a provincial park in northern Alberta who is believed to have shot and killed a service dog during a police chase. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
RCMP search for armed man in northern Alberta after police dog shot and killed

Cpl. Deanna Fontaine says a police service dog named Jago was shot during the pursuit

Alberta now has 2,336 active cases of COVID-19, with 237 people in hospital, including 58 in intensive care. (Black Press file photo)
Red Deer down to 73 active cases of COVID-19, lowest since early November

The Central zone has 253 active cases of the virus

The Sylvan Lake Gulls show off the home jerseys (white) and their way jerseys at the Gulls Media Day on June 17, before the season opener. Following the media day, the team took to the field for their first practise. (Photo by Megan Roth/Sylvan Lake News)
Sylvan Lake Gulls ready to throw first pitch as construction continues

The Gulls inaugural season kicks off June 18 with a game against the Edmonton Prospects

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

Bruce Springsteen performs at the 13th annual Stand Up For Heroes benefit concert in support of the Bob Woodruff Foundation in New York on Nov. 4, 2019. (Greg Allen/Invision/AP)
Canadians who got AstraZeneca shot can now see ‘Springsteen on Broadway’

B.C. mayor David Screech who received his second AstraZeneca dose last week can now attend the show

A lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018.THE CANADIAN PRESS
No winning ticket sold for Friday’s $70 million Lotto Max jackpot

The huge jackpot has remained unclaimed for several weeks now

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant grew in Canada this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s public health agency reports spike in confirmed cases of Delta variant

More than 2,000 cases of the variant confirmed across all 10 provinces and in one territory

The federal government says it wants to ban most flavoured vaping products in a bid to reduce their appeal to youth. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Craig Mitchelldyer
Health Canada proposes ban on most vaping flavours it says appeal to youth

If implemented, the regulations would restrict all e-cigarette flavours except tobacco, mint and menthol

The Montreal Police logo is seen in Montreal on Wednesday, July 8, 2020. Some Quebec politicians are calling for an investigation after a video was released that appears to show a Montreal police officer with his leg on a young Black man’s neck during an arrest. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Probe called for after video appearing to show Montreal officer’s knee on Black youth’s neck

Politicians call for investigation after clip evokes memories of George Floyd incident

Most Read