Update: Mystery solved—kind of. Until this week, it wasn't clear if the person(s) who'd won the second-biggest Mega Millions lottery ever, a staggering $1.34 billion jackpot, knew they'd purchased the winning ticket in Illinois, let alone who that was. Now, at least the first half of that has been cleared up: Illinois Lottery officials say two people who agreed to split the spoils if they won have stepped forward to claim the prize, reports CBS News. Lottery officials say the winners, who've opted to take the lump sum payment of $780.5 million, have chosen to remain anonymous but are "over the moon" about their prize, the third largest lottery win in US history. The Speedway that sold the winning ticket will receive $500,000, per WGN. Our original story from Aug. 1 follows:
Many states offer lottery jackpot winners no option for privacy—but Illinois, where the winner of the Mega Millions $1.337 billion jackpot lives, does. Because of that, we may never know who just won the second-largest Mega Millions jackpot ever (and the third-biggest jackpot of any lottery). As NPR reports, an increasing number of states are moving to grant privacy rights to big lottery winners, but in most states, the information becomes public record. "State and provincial lawmakers want the public to know that the lottery is honestly run and so require that at a minimum the name of the winner and their city of residence be made public," says one nonprofit trade organization for lotteries.
In Illinois, however, winners of jackpots over $250,000 can request that information be kept secret. Arizona recently implemented a similar policy, and the director of the Arizona Lottery says that even though lotteries are run with public money, as jackpots grow bigger and bigger he expects more anonymity to start being allowed so that winners feel safe. "We have not heard from the winner yet," the director of the Illinois lottery said Saturday during a press conference, per Today. "We don't know whether or not they're aware they've won this incredible prize. So we're telling all of our players—check your tickets." Winners have 60 days to choose between a lump sum or annual payment, and 12 months to collect their winnings. (Read more Mega Millions stories.)