CHICAGO — Someone in suburban Chicago beat the odds to win the $1.28 billion Mega Millions jackpot.
According to megamillions.com, there was a winning ticket in Friday night’s draw, which was purchased at the Speedway gas station and convenience store in Des Plaines.
The winning numbers are: 13-36-45-57-67, Mega Ball: 14.
“We are delighted to witness one of the largest jackpot wins in Mega Millions history,” Ohio Lottery Director Pat McDonald, now lead director of Mega Millions, said in a statement on the lottery’s website. “We’d love to know who won and look forward to congratulating the winner soon!”
The jackpot is the third largest lottery prize in the country. It got so big because no one has matched the game’s six selected numbers since April 15th. This is 29 consecutive draws without a winner.
The $1.28 billion prize is for winners who choose the annuity option and is paid annually for 29 years. Most winners chose the cash option, and Friday night’s draw was estimated at $747.2 million.
The odds of winning the jackpot are 1 in 302.5 million.
According to the Illinois Lottery, the store that sells the tickets is also a pretty big winner. It will receive a million dollars just for selling tickets. A Speedway store clerk who answered the phone but declined to be named said the store had not been formally notified that winning tickets had been sold, and learned from reporters who asked for comment.
Mega Millions takes place in 45 states as well as Washington, DC and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The game is coordinated by the state lottery.
Illinois is one of the states where more than $250,000 winners can choose not to be named, Camelot Illinois spokeswoman Emilia Mazur said the vast majority of winners do.
Even lottery officials may temporarily not know who won, because the winner doesn’t have to come forward right away. The winning ticket may have been bought by a group of people.
“We won’t know if it’s an individual or a lottery pool until the winner steps up to claim the prize,” said National Mega Millions spokeswoman Danielle Frizzi-Babb.
Emily Irwin, managing director of consulting and planning at Wells Fargo Wealth & Investment Management, said Friday that winners should consider keeping a low profile and resisting a startling spending frenzy that everyone knows winners can’t afford.
“This is not the time to start calling everyone you know and say, ‘Hey, I have a big secret. Can you keep it?'” Owen said.
This is necessary to avoid being overwhelmed by a flood of money requests.
“There are scammers and others following the big winners,” she said, acknowledging that sudden wealth could put lottery winners in physical danger.
“Privacy equals security,” she said.
One thing the winner must do right away is sign the ticket. That’s because if the ticket hasn’t been signed, it really isn’t yours. If the winner loses an unsigned ticket and another person finds and signs it, the ticket now belongs to them.
Owen suggested going a step further to survive the legal battle over ownership.
“Take a Polaroid where you’re holding it and (put it) in a safe or some other safe place,” she said.
The winners should work with a financial planner to plan their future, said Pratik Patel, director of family wealth strategy at BMO Family Office in Chicago.
“I would run a Monte Carlo market simulation,” Patel explained, an analysis of what the winner’s annual income might be and what the return on various investments might be. “What you’re doing is using analytics to inform your spending.”
Frizzi-Babb agrees it’s a good idea to talk to a financial planner.
“I recommend that you do this before stepping into the lottery office,” a spokesman for the National Lottery said.
There’s also a question no one wants to answer at that particular time: what happens to the money when you die?
Owen says don’t ignore it; you have to take action to make sure that most of your property goes to your beneficiaries and not the government.
“You need a manager who specializes in the field and understands the world,” Patel said. “A person making $60,000 a year may need some type of professional manager, and they may want to turn to someone who is super wealthy.”
Whatever the winner does, it’s important to do it slowly.
“You can absolutely indulge, but let’s be smart,” Patel said. “It’s a lot of money, but until you figure out what you can afford, there are limits.”
For example, he said, consider leasing a private jet before diving in and buying.
“You might be interested in owning your favorite basketball team,” he warns, “but if it’s going to cost you all your money, it’s probably not a good idea.”