July 29, a gas station in suburban Des Plaines sold a lucky $1.337 billion Mega Millions lottery ticket to someone. But more than 40 days later, the Illinois winner has remained silent.
However, that's not so unusual, according to Illinois Lottery officials.
“For a prize of this magnitude, it’s not unusual for the winner to take a while to claim,” Illinois Lottery Director Harold Mays Mays said previously in a statement. “I’m sure they’re going through a range of emotions.”
And while that person — who can indeed remain anonymous if they so choose — has 12 months from the drawing date to collect their prize, a more pressing deadline is inching closer: deciding how to collect the money.
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According to Illinois Lottery's Winner's Handbook, "Lotto, Mega Millions and Powerball winners have 60 days after the date of the drawing to choose the cash option or annual payments."
The $1.337 billion prize would be paid annually over 29 years if the winner picks the annuity option. If the winner opts for cash, they would receive an estimated $780.5 million.
"Failure to choose a payment option within the 60-day time period will automatically result in annuity payments," the handbook states.
As of Sept. 12, the clock is ticking. The winner has only 15 days to decide.
Looking ahead, if no one claims the prize within the allotted 12-month timeframe, each state that participated in the game will get all the money it contributed to the unclaimed jackpot back. The Illinois Lottery said each state can use its unclaimed lottery prizes for a variety purposes.
In the meantime, the Illinois Lottery has revealed a different winner: Speedway, the corporate gas station chain perched at 885 E. Touhy Ave., will receive a half-million dollar bonus for selling the winning ticket.