Almost a week has passed since a Mega Millions ticket sold in Illinois landed the third largest jackpot of all time, and the winner still hasn't come forward to collect their $1.337 billion prize.
“For a prize of this magnitude, it’s not unusual for the winner to take a while to claim,” Illinois Lottery Director Harold Mays said in a statement Friday. “I’m sure they’re going through a range of emotions.”
If no one claims the prize within the allotted 12-month timeframe set in Illinois, each state that participated in the game will get all the money it contributed to the unclaimed jackpot back. According to the Illinois Lottery, each state can use its unclaimed lottery prizes for a variety purposes.
While the winner still has time to claim their earnings, they have only 60 days from the date of the draw to choose between the cash or annual payment options. Since the winning numbers — 13-36-45-57-67, Mega Ball: 14 — were drawn last Friday, the winner now has 53 days left to decide.
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The $1.337 billion prize will be paid annually over 29 years if the winner picks the annuity option. If the winner opts for cash, they will receive an estimated $780.5 million.
“We will work closely with the winner to respect any wishes for privacy and support them in any way we can to provide a positive winning experience,” Mays said in a statement Friday.
The Illinois Lottery allows winners to request anonymity if the prize is greater than $250,000, which certainly applies in this case. The winner may request to keep their name and municipality of residence confidential at the time of claiming their prize.
With the winner's identity still a mystery, lottery officials continue to encourage players to check their tickets. The Speedway gas station and convenience store in Des Plaines, located at 885 E. Touhy Ave., sold the winning ticket.
Officials also encourage the winner to sign the back of their ticket, seek legal advice and make an appointment with the Illinois Lottery to claim their prize.