Two mystery winners have claimed the $1.34 billion Mega Millions prize — eight weeks after buying the tickets for the third largest lottery jackpot in US history at a gas station in Illinois.
The pair — who chose to remain anonymous — claimed the July 29 prize after working with professional legal and financial advisors ahead of picking the lump sum payment of $780.5 million, officials said Wednesday.
They had bought the winning ticket during a routine stop at a Speedway in Des Plaines, Illinois, agreeing to split the prize if they won.
“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,” said Illinois Lottery Director Harold Mays.
“These winners are now in the enviable position of deciding what to do with their newfound fortune.”
The winners had a full year to claim the prize, but only 60 days — or until Sept. 27 — for their choice of getting the $780.5 million lump sum.
Illinois Lottery Claims Manager Luis Rodriguez said it was “by far the largest prize I’ve ever had to process” in his five years on the job.
“When we met with the winners’ lawyers there was a real buzz of excitement in the room,” he said.
“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.
“It was an incredible feeling just to be part of that process – so I can only imagine how the winners themselves are feeling.”
The lottery officials insisted that they could not give any detail about the winners beyond saying they would be “over the moon.”
The jackpot was the second-largest in Mega Millions history, trailing only a $1.537 billion winning ticket in South Carolina on Oct. 23, 2018. That winner remains unknown.
The world-record jackpot of $1.586 billion was awarded on Jan. 13, 2016, in the Powerball lottery. It was shared by winners in California, Florida, and Tennessee.