Here's What Happens if No One Claims the Mega Millions Jackpot

Check Your Mega Millions Lottery Tickets!
On July 29th, a very lucky person hit the Mega Millions jackpot and won $1.337 billion. The multi-billion dollar ticket was sold at a speedway in Des Plaines, Illinois, about 20 miles north of Chicago. In fact, the original jackpot was $1.28 billion but increased due to the cash flow from ticket sales.
This colossal win was the second largest jackpot in Mega Millions history. In two decades, it was only surpassed by the $1.537 billion ticket purchased on October 23, 2018 at the KC Mart supermarket in Simpsonville, South Carolina. (The biggest jackpot of all time was the $1.586 billion Powerball in 2016.)
But here's the rub. At press time, no one has claimed their winnings. "For a prize of this magnitude, it's not uncommon for the winner to take a while to claim it," Illinois lottery director Harold Mays said in a statement. "I'm sure they're going through a range of emotions."
Believe it or not, millions of dollars in lottery winnings have gone unclaimed. It is said that every year an estimated $2 billion in lottery winnings go uncollected.
Most of them are for $1 or up to $5 jackpots. However, consider the $77 million that was never claimed for the winning Powerball ticket sold in Georgia in 2011, or the unclaimed $68 million Mega Millions ticket sold in New York for the drawing was sold on December 24, 2002. Then there was Indiana's $51.7 million Powerball ticket in 2002.
While it's too late for the aforementioned big winners to cash in, the person who bought that lucky Mega Millions ticket at Des Plaines Speedway has 12 months from the date of the drawing to claim their loot Report. (They only have 60 days to decide whether to accept annual payments or cash.)
At the end of the day, lotteries like the one in Illinois represent a big win for the state because they provide key funding for public elementary and high schools. Since its inception in 1985, the Mega Millions lottery has raised $21 billion in state education funding.
"We're excited to see who won and look forward to congratulating the winner soon!" Ohio Lottery Director Pat McDonald, who currently serves as lead director for the Mega Millions Consortium, told "More than that, this exciting jackpot run has had a significant positive impact on the income of our member lotteries for good causes."
What happens to unclaimed lottery tickets? Here's what we discovered.
Where was the $1.337 billion Mega Millions ticket sold?
The jackpot winning ticket was sold at a speedway in Des Plaines, Illinois, northwest of Chicago.
Who Won the Mega Millions Jackpot?
We do not know yet. At the time of going to press, the winner had not yet been announced. However, under Illinois lottery rules, the winner has 12 months from the date of the drawing to claim their prize. However, you only have 60 days from the date of the draw to choose the cash option or pay annually.
Related: Check out the mountaintop home of this $180 million lottery winner
Can a lottery winner be anonymous?
Yes. In Illinois, winners of prizes of $250,000 or more may choose to remain anonymous.
If nobody claims the Mega Millions jackpot, who gets the money?
"It is far too early to consider this prize unclaimed," said Megan Powers, Illinois Lottery communications director. "However, in Illinois, any prizes unclaimed after 12 months will be returned to the Common School Fund to support kindergarten through twelfth grade."
See also: Florida You can thank your dog for winning the lottery
What does the seller of the winning ticket get?
According to Powers, all lottery dealers receive a 1% bonus commission on the sale of a winning ticket, capped at a maximum of $500,000. Speedway owner will receive a $500,000 cash bonus. "Speedway is thrilled to have sold the winning ticket," adds Powers.
Which organizations benefit from Mega Millions?
Mega Millions is played in 47 states, with winnings from each lottery supporting local causes. In the case of Illinois, this lottery generates preschool through 12th grade funds, with all winnings going back to the Common School Fund and supporting several worthy causes. "Thanks to the recent Mega Millions jackpot roll series, the Illinois Lottery will return $34 million to the Common School Fund," Powers said.
Have other jackpots not been claimed?
Yes! In the United States, some major jackpots have never been hit, including the $77 million Powerball ticket in Georgia in 2011, the $68 million Mega Millions ticket sold in New York in December 2002 the $51.7 million Powerball ticket sold in Indiana in September 2002 and the $46 million Mega Millions ticket sold in New York in April 2006.
If you happen to be the holder of the $1.337 billion ticket, what should you do?
The Illinois Lottery offers some wise advice on what to do next: Sign the back of the ticket and keep it in a safe place. Seek professional legal and financial advice and call the lottery player hotline at 1-800-252-1775, which allows people to schedule a private appointment to claim the prize. "We will work closely with the winner to respect all privacy requests and to support them in any way we can to provide a positive winning experience," Mays added.
See also: Biggest Lottery Winners of All Time

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