The number of billionaires in South Carolina may have doubled overnight – at least before taxes – after a lottery ticket sold in the state won the $US1.5 billion ($A2.17 billion) Mega Millions lottery jackpot.
The ticket, sold at the KC Mart in Simpsonville, matched all six numbers drawn on Tuesday night, defying the one in 302.5 million odds to win the near-record prize.
The winner would only become an actual billionaire by taking the prize in annual instalments over three decades and hanging on to the bulk of the money.
The lucky person can also take an $877.8 million lump-sum cash payment, which most winners choose to receive.
South Carolina Education Lottery officials know when and where the winning ticket was bought, but until someone turns the ticket in, they won’t know who bought it. And the public may never find out.
South Carolina allows lottery winners to remain anonymous after conducting a thorough investigation to confirm their identity, lottery chief operating officer Tony Cooper said.
The name of South Carolina’s last big winner – a $399 million Powerball jackpot in September 2013 which at the time was the fourth biggest lottery prize in US history – has never been made public.
“Our message to the $1.5 BILLION# Mega Millions 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.
With more than $1.5 billion, an exceedingly generous winner could shower roughly $307 on each of the state’s five million people. It’s about as much as 20 per cent of the state’s $8 billion annual budget.
“It’s a big, big win for South Carolina,” Cooper said.
Lottery officials said the state will get $80 million in taxes. The state sold around $15 million worth of tickets just for Tuesday night’s drawing, with most of the revenue going to education, Cooper said.
KC Mart owner CJ Patel will also be a winner. He gets a $50,000 bonus, and said Wednesday he will share part of it with his employees. He has owned the store not far from where Greenville’s suburbs turn rural for more than three years.
Patel said lottery ticket sales were brisk leading up to Tuesday and he has no idea who bought the winner.
“I hope he will keep coming in,” Patel said with a broad smile.
“He’d be good for the business.”
The biggest Mega Millions jackpot winner prior to this was a $656 million ticket sold 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.”