Lottery officials in South Carolina on Tuesday said the winner of the $1.5 billion Mega Millions jackpot has still not stepped forward even though the drawing was nearly three weeks ago.
South Carolina’s WLTX reported that the winning ticket was sold in the town of Simpsonville. The report said that the winner has 180 days to step forward. The winner’s time runs out on April 21.
If the ticket is not claimed in the allotted time, "each participating state in the Mega Millions game will get back all the money that state contributed to the unclaimed jackpot," according to the Mega Millions website, noting that "each state uses its unclaimed lottery prizes for different purposes."
The ticket, sold at the KC Mart, matched all six numbers, defying the 1 in 302.5 million odds to win the near-record prize.
Jee Patel, the manager of the store that sold the winning lotto ticket, told Fox News that “lotto tourists” stop in daily to take pictures of the place. He estimated between 10 to 15 visitors a day. He said he has no idea who won.
“Everyone’s talking about it,” he said. “It’s a mystery.”
The winner would only become an actual billionaire by taking the prize in annual installments 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 allows lottery winners to remain anonymous after conducting a thorough investigation to confirm their identity, lottery Chief Operating Officer Tony Cooper said.
"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 at the time.
One Twitter user had a suggestion about what to do with the money in the event the winner never steps forward: “Why doesn’t the gov’t just pick 25k lotto winners 1.5B/26K=$60K each and save itself the hassle?”
The Associated Press contributed to this report