Winners split behemoth win within timeframe to claim cash prize
By Kate Northrop
CHICAGO, Ill. — Two winners in a partnership have come forward to claim the eye-watering $1.34 billion Mega Millions jackpot that was drawn in July 2022.
One single ticket was all it took to win the record $1.34 billion Mega Millions jackpot on July 29, 2022, but two people jointly stepped forward to claim it all.
Today, the Illinois Lottery announced that the prize has officially been claimed, shared by a partnership that agreed to split the winnings if won, and they kept their billion-dollar promise.
"I've been working for the Illinois Lottery for over five years, and this is by far the largest prize I've ever had to process," Illinois Lottery Claims Manager Luis Rodriguez said in a press release. "When we met with the winners' lawyers there was a real buzz of excitement in the room," said Rodriguez.
With Illinois allowing winners of $250,000 to remain anonymous, the two ticketholders predictably opted not to give out their names, and it is very likely we won't find out their identities anytime soon. Rodriguez was there to support the winners and their legal representatives during the claim process.
"It's a surreal feeling giving away this amount of money and knowing what a huge impact this is going to make on the winners' lives, and for others close to them as well," Rodriguez continued. "It was an incredible feeling just to be part of that process — so I can only imagine how the winners themselves are feeling."
While the Illinois Lottery cannot share any information about the winners, they did say that they must be absolutely "over the moon" with their win.
The partners claimed the prize just before a major deadline that would have prevented them from claiming it as a cash option. Had they waited until Sept. 27, 2022, less than a week away, they would have only had the option to claim the prize as an annuity.
In Illinois, Mega Millions winners get one year from the draw date to claim their prize, but only as an annuity. The prize can only be claimed as a lump sum within 60 days.
But nearly eight weeks after the historic drawing, it's no longer a topic of conversation. Instead, they're likely focused on what they're going to do with an unimaginable amount of money.
"These winners are now in the enviable position of deciding what to do with their newfound fortune," Lottery Director Harold Mays noted. "They stopped into the Speedway in Des Plaines and grabbed a Mega Millions ticket while they were there. That turned out to be an absolutely life changing decision when a $3 line of Mega Millions with Megaplier turned into a $1.34 billion jackpot win."
Over the past few weeks, the two winners have been busy working with a team consisting of professional legal and financial advisors in preparation for the claim.
They chose to take the lump sum payment of $780.5 million. According to USA Mega, their net payout will be about $453.12 million after taxes.
During the jackpot roll, which lasted for 29 drawings without a winner between April 16 and July 29, the state of Illinois also came out on top, having generated $34 million for the Common School Fund through Mega Millions sales.
Retailers were paid a collective $3.75 million in commissions and bonuses for selling winning tickets, and there were over 1.4 million winning tickets in Illinois totaling $11.8 million in prizes, excluding the jackpot, including four players who won $1 million.
The next Mega Millions drawing will take place on Fri., Sept. 23 at 11:00 pm EST for a jackpot of $301 million. The Powerball jackpot is not far behind, sitting at $251 million for the drawing on Wed., Sept. 21 at 10:59 pm EST.