NEPTUNE BEACH, Fla. — A lone ticket sold in Florida has emerged as the fortunate winner of an astounding $1.58 billion Mega Millions jackpot, putting an end to weeks of eager anticipation about the identity of the ultimate prizewinner.
According to the Florida Lottery, the victorious ticket was purchased at a Publix grocery store in Neptune Beach. The winning combination drawn on Tuesday night comprised the numbers 13, 19, 20, 32, 33, and the yellow ball numbered 14.
A request for comment was made to Publix on Wednesday but remained unanswered.
James F. Davis, the Florida Lottery’s secretary, conveyed that as of Wednesday, the buyer of the winning ticket had yet to be identified. He emphasized that the individual possesses a 180-day window to present the ticket to Tallahassee’s lottery officials in order to claim their winnings.
Davis remarked to The Associated Press, “These individuals are likely to get in touch with a lawyer, reach out to a financial advisor, and ensure all their affairs are in order. When you’re a winner, you have the potential to make a significant impact on numerous lives.”
On Wednesday, while attending a meeting of the Multi-State Lottery Association in Iowa, Davis shared an exciting experience. “As I entered the meeting room, applause erupted all around, which was a truly exhilarating and electrifying moment,” he recounted.
Davis had been harboring hopes that a substantial lottery game winner would come from Florida. He said, “I can tell you that the last two Powerball winners were in California, and I’ve been crossing my fingers for the next winner to be right here in Florida.”
At the Neptune Beach Publix store, an employee greeted a colleague arriving for work with a playful inquiry: “Mary, did you win the billion dollars?” The reply was a simple “Nope, and I’m guessing you didn’t either.”
Neptune Beach, nestled along the Atlantic Ocean in northeast Florida, typifies numerous beachside communities. Featuring a blend of affluent neighborhoods and less privileged areas, the town is home to a number of current and former NFL football players and coaches from the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Before this substantial victory, there had been a sequence of 31 consecutive draws without a jackpot winner since April 18. This extended stretch allowed the prize amount to progressively balloon, eventually becoming the third-largest jackpot in U.S. history.
The rarity of Mega Millions jackpot winners is attributable to the daunting odds of one in 302.6 million.
The colossal $1.58 billion sum could be claimed by the winner through an annuity distributed over three decades. However, individuals often favor a lump sum option. For this particular jackpot on Tuesday, the estimated lump sum was $783.3 million.
It’s important to note that the prize money is subject to federal taxation, and several states impose taxes on lottery winnings as well.
Florida introduced a law last year that permits winners of lottery prizes exceeding $250,000 to remain anonymous for a duration of 90 days. Furthermore, Florida doesn’t impose a state income tax.
Mega Millions is accessible in 45 states, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Neptune Beach, home to slightly over 7,000 residents, is situated 16 miles (25 kilometers) east of Jacksonville on Florida’s Atlantic Coast.