What happens if nobody claims the Mega Millions jackpot?
(NEXSTAR) – It’s been a week since a Mega Millions ticket sold in Illinois landed the third-largest lottery prize in the nation. Despite the $1.337 billion award, the winner hasn’t yet come forward.
So what happens if nobody claims the award?
Ultimately, if the jackpot goes unclaimed within the required time, states that participated in the Mega Millions game will get back the funds their state contributed to the pot, according to the game’s website. From there, each state can use its prize funds for its own purposes.
In Illinois, a Mega Millions winner has one year after the drawing date to claim their prize, meaning the winner of the $1.337 billion jackpot has 357 days left to come forward. The Illinois Lottery did not immediately respond to Nexstar’s request for information regarding how it uses recollected funds if the jackpot goes unclaimed.
When they collect their prize, the winner would have the option of remaining anonymous, with the ability to have both their name and the municipality of residence withheld, under Illinois law.
The winner could be preparing themselves financially before coming forward. They can either accept the $1.337 billion prize with the annuity option, meaning it’s paid annually over 29 years, or as the cash option, which would be around $780.5 million for this jackpot. It’s also possible the ticket was bought by a group of people.
The winning ticket – with numbers – 13-36-45-57-67, Mega Ball: 14 – was bought at a Speedway gas station in the Chicago suburb of Des Plaines.
According to Illinois Lottery, the Speedway will receive half a million dollars just for selling the ticket. A clerk at the Speedway store who answered the phone but declined to give his name said the store had not been officially notified that it sold the winning ticket and that he learned about it from reporters calling for comment.
If you are lucky enough to have won the jackpot – or any lottery drawing for that matter – officials recommend immediately signing the back of your ticket. The ticket isn’t really yours until it’s been signed, meaning if you lose it before signing and someone else finds it, they get to collect the prize.
Mega Millions is played in 45 states as well as Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The game is coordinated by state lotteries.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.