Mega Millions Jackpot Winner Claims Prize, but Florida Law Keeps Details Hidden
Posted on: September 28, 2023, 01:28h.
Last updated on: September 28, 2023, 02:32h.
The August winner of the Mega Millions jackpot worth $1.602 billion came forward on Monday, September 25, to claim the prize, but lottery officials aren’t saying much about the person’s identity because of a recently passed law in Florida.
Florida lawmakers and Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) passed legislation last year that allows lottery winners to remain anonymous for up to 90 days after coming forward to claim their prizes. House Bill 159 provides “persons who win valuable lottery prizes” to keep their names confidential for roughly three months after claiming their life-changing money.
The legislation came after several incidences of Florida Lottery winners becoming “targets of violent and nonviolent acts based upon publicly available identifying information.” Because of the law, the Mega Millions winner who won the August 8 jackpot worth $1.6 billion can remain anonymous until December 24.
The $1.6 billion win marks the richest annuitized jackpot prize in Mega Millions history. Because of high federal interest rates, the jackpot’s one-time cash value option of $794.2 million was less than the $1.537 billion annuitized jackpot won in October 2018 by a player in South Carolina.
The August jackpot’s lump sum of about $794.2 million is considerably less than the $878 million cash option that the October 2018 winner chose.
The advertised Mega Millions and Powerball jackpots are based on bonds backed by the US Treasury. With interest rates far higher today than they were in 2018, the annuitized jackpots for Mega Millions and rival Powerball have increased in value quicker than they did when interest rates were near zero.
The Florida Lottery was legally barred from providing information on the winner, but state officials also refrained from revealing which payment option the winner selected. The state’s rules on claiming prizes might have tipped the winner’s hand.
Florida Lottery rules require winners of Mega Millions and Powerball, as well as other major jackpots, to notify the state that they wish to take the one-time cash option within 60 days of the win. Winners have up to 180 days to choose the full value through the 30-year annuity.
Since the Mega Millions jackpot winner came forward within the 60-day timeframe, it might mean they opted for the one-time cash option. The $794.2 million win will be reduced to about $500.38 million after federal taxes. Fortunately for the winner, Florida doesn’t tax lottery winnings.
Powerball to $925M
Meanwhile, Powerball continued its jackpot-less run for a 30th consecutive drawing on Wednesday night. The lottery game’s top prize hasn’t been won since July 19.
With yet another drawing without a single ticket matching the six numbers, the jackpot rolls over for the game’s next drawing on Saturday night. Powerball officials estimate increased ticket sales will drive the annuitized prize to $925 million, with the one-time cash value climbing to $434.2 million.
The Powerball jackpot is inching closer to the 10-digit market. In US history, there have only been eight times when a lottery jackpot has crossed the $1 billion mark.
Mega Millions was responsible for five of those history-making prizes, with Powerball behind three. If no ticket wins the Powerball jackpot on Saturday, the run will become the ninth $1B+ lottery jackpot in US history.
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