FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — It’s official – the winner of the jaw-dropping $1.6 billion Mega Millions jackpot, the third-largest in U.S. history, has stepped into the spotlight. Lottery officials made the announcement on Wednesday, marking an end to the suspense that had gripped the nation.
This monumental win now makes Mega Millions a record-breaker with five prizes exceeding a billion dollars.
Under a recently enacted Florida law, the identity of the lucky winner will remain a secret for the first 90 days from the date the prize was claimed. The fortunate claimant came forward on September 25, but the lottery officials did not disclose whether they chose the lump sum or the annuity option. The estimated lump sum amount remains a mystery.
In Florida, winners must claim the lump sum within 60 days of the drawing or, alternatively, they can opt for the annuity, which spreads the winnings over 30 annual installments. It’s worth noting that the jackpot is also subject to federal taxes, though Florida residents enjoy the benefit of no state income tax.
The golden ticket that set this historic event in motion was purchased at a Publix supermarket in Neptune Beach, a charming town nestled along the Atlantic Coast near Jacksonville. The life-altering numbers drawn on August 8 were 13, 19, 20, 32, 33, and the Mega Ball was 14.
While this Mega Millions win ranks as the third-largest jackpot in U.S. history, the reigning champion remains a Powerball ticket in California, which astonishingly raked in a staggering $2.04 billion on November 8, 2022. The second-largest jackpot was also a Powerball prize, totaling $1.586 billion, won on January 13, 2016, and split among three lucky ticket holders in California, Florida, and Tennessee.
The recent Florida jackpot now proudly claims its place as the third-largest, with three other Mega Millions prizes securing the fourth, fifth, and sixth positions in the record books. On October 23, 2018, a single individual in South Carolina became a billionaire overnight by winning $1.537 billion. Following that, $1.35 billion was claimed in Maine on January 13, 2023, and $1.337 billion was won in Illinois on July 29, 2022. The Maine winner chose to remain anonymous and collected the cash option through a limited liability company, LaKoma Island Investments LLC.
Historically, most grand prize winners have opted for the lump sum payment. However, there are exceptions, such as the jackpot winner in Virginia from the March 4, 2023 drawing, who chose an annuity worth $156.7 million to be distributed annually. Remarkably, the last time a Powerball winner chose the annuity option was back in 2014.
Mega Millions continues to captivate players’ imaginations across 45 states, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands, offering the promise of life-changing jackpots that can turn dreams into reality.