Winning $1.34bn lottery ticket not yet claimed as officials urge players to check ticket numbers

The winner of the $1.34bn Mega Millions jackpot has not claimed their prize, as lottery officials urge players to check their tickets for the winning number.

The winning ticket from the 29 July drawing was sold at a Speedway gas station in Des Plaines, Illinois. However, lottery officials confirmed on Friday that the winner is still unknown one month later.

“We don’t know whether or not they even know that they won a prize,” said Harold Mays, director of the Illinois Department of the Lottery. “So, I encourage everybody to check your ticket.”

Unlike some states, lottery winners in Illinois with a jackpot of over $250,000 have the option to remain anonymous. But some officials believe that the owner of the winning ticket could’ve decided not to contact anyone about the prize.

“For a prize of this magnitude, it’s not unusual for a winner to take a little bit longer to claim the prize as they may want to seek professional legal and financial advice prior to claiming,” said Meghan Powers, director of communications for the Illinois Lottery, in a statement to The Independent. “We will support the winner through the prize claim process to ensure a great winning experience and support any requests for anonymity.”

The $1.34bn prize is the third largest lottery win in US history. According to Mega Millions, the lump-sum winning payout for the jackpot is estimated to be $747.2m. The winner has 12 months from the date of the draw to claim their prize, but only 60 days to choose whether to be paid the full jackpot amount or in installments over 29 years. In addition, the Des Plaines Speedway will also receive a cash bonus of $500,000 for selling the winning ticket.

“Nothing makes us happier than bringing a little bit of joy to our customers’ lives – or in this case, a whole lot of joy!” said Michael Browning, Regional Director for Speedway, in a statement. “We’re thrilled to play a part in this customer’s winning journey and hope many others in the community can experience the same luck from this special store.”

The second largest jackpot was a $1.586bn Powerball drawing in 2016, whose three winning tickets were sold in California, Florida and Tennessee. In October 2018, a $1.537bn Mega Millions jackpot was won by a ticket holder in South Carolina, who decided to remain anonymous. The third largest was won by a single ticket in Michigan in 2021 for $1.05bn.