The mystery is over. Partly.
Lottery officials announced Monday that a South Carolina resident has come forward claiming the $ 1.5 billion Mega Millions jackpot last October – the largest single jackpot payout in US history – but he chose to remain anonymous.
A statement by the lottery commission said that the person who filed the request for what was the second largest lottery in US history chose the cash option, a one-time payment of about $ 878,000. 000.
The biggest prize in US history – a $ 1.555 billion Powerball prize won on January 13, 2016 – was split between buyers in three states. That jackpot also had a certain mystery as the California winners did not come forward until about six months later.
"We are delighted that the winner is a Southern Carolinian and has come forward to claim this remarkable award," said Hogan Brown, Executive Director of the Commission. "We respect the winner's decision to remain anonymous and honor the wishes of the winner."
The commission said the winner "is amazed at how every decision taken that day brought the winner to the shop, at that moment" to buy the winning ticket. The winner allowed another customer to make a purchase of the Mega Millions lottery ticket in front of the winner while standing in line at the store, the commission said.
"A simple act of kindness has led to a surprising result," says the statement.
South Carolina is one of the few states where winners can remain anonymous – a choice that winners often make to protect themselves from being targeted by criminals or unscrupulous people looking for money.
The winning ticket was sold between October 20 and October 23 last year at the KC Mart convenience store in Simpsonville, a suburb of the city of Greenville in South Carolina.
"It's exciting, good for me, good for him, for her, whoever she is," said Chirag Patel, owner of the shop. This is because Patel receives a payment of $ 50,000 for the sale of the winning ticket – something that would not have been obtained if the prize had gone unclaimed.
Patel said he will use the money to pay for the renovations at the Simpsonville store and six other grocery stores he owns. When asked why he thinks the winner took so long to come forward, Patel said, "There's a lot of money to manage."
For months, the residents of South Carolina had speculated on why the winner had not come forward.
Some theorized that the victor was fleeing from the police and feared a background check if he or she had won. Some thought the winner was so overwhelmed to see the winning numbers come out that he or she died instantly. Others have speculated that the winning ticket had been purchased from a pool of offices and was now the subject of litigation.
The winner had until April 19 to claim the prize. If he had gone unclaimed, the money would have returned to the 44 states in which the tickets were purchased.
The statement Monday gave no clue as to why the winner took his time to come forward.
The prize that is requested has no other advantages for the state besides the fact of knowing that a new multimillionaire is walking somewhere.
The lottery commission said the state will get $ 61 million of income tax from the winner. And this could be passed on to tax payers if a proposal goes to give a $ 50 refund to every person who records income tax.
"I'm happy that the money will remain in South Carolina, of course, South Carolina will reap the benefits," House Ways and Means president Murrell Smith, R-Sumter told The Post and Courier.
He added: "What we hope is that, through the tax payer's discount, all the taxpayers of this state will also benefit".