The mystery is over. Partly.
US Lottery officials have announced that a South Carolina resident had stepped forward to claim the $US1.5 billion ($A2.1 billion) Mega Millions jackpot from last October — the largest jackpot payout to a single winner in US history — but elected to remain anonymous, reports the New York Post.
A lottery commission statement said the person submitting the claim for what was the second-largest lottery in US history had chosen the cash option, a one-time payment of nearly $US878,000,000 ($A1.2 billion).
The biggest jackpot in US history — a $US1.585 billion ($A2.2 billion) Powerball prize won on January 13, 2016 — was split among buyers in three states. That jackpot also had some mystery as the California winners didn’t come forward until about six months later.
“We are delighted that the winner is a South Carolinian and has come forward to claim this remarkable prize,” said Hogan Brown, the commission’s executive director. “We respect the winner’s decision to remain anonymous, and we will honour the winner’s wishes.”
The commission said the winner “marvels at how every decision made that day brought the winner to the store, at that very moment” to buy the winning ticket. The winner allowed a fellow customer to make a Mega Millions lottery ticket purchase in front of them while in line at the store, the commission said.
“A simple act of kindness led to an amazing outcome,” the statement said.
South Carolina is one of a handful of states where winners can remain anonymous — a choice that winners often make to protect themselves from being targeted by criminals or unscrupulous people seeking money.
The winning ticket was sold between October 20 and October 23 of last year at the KC Mart convenience store in Simpsonville, a suburb of the South Carolina city of Greenville.
“It’s exciting. Good for me, good for him, her, whoever it is,” said Chirag Patel, owner of the convenience store. That’s because Mr Patel gets a $US50,000 ($A70,000) payment for selling the winning ticket — something he wouldn’t have gotten if the prize went unclaimed.
Mr Patel said he’ll use the money to pay for renovations to the store in Simpsonville as well as some of the six other convenience stores he owns. When asked why he thinks the winner took so long to come forward, Mr Patel said: “That’s a lot of money to manage.”
For months, South Carolina residents had speculated on why the winner hadn’t stepped forward.
This story was originally published in the New York Post and is reprinted with permission.