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story.lead_photo.caption Media at left, record people entering the KC Mart in Simpsonville, S.C., on Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2018, after it was announced the winning Mega Millions lottery ticket was purchased at the store. Unless the winner chooses to come forward, the world may never know who won. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)

SIMPSONVILLE, S.C. -- The number of billionaires in South Carolina may have doubled overnight -- at least before taxes -- after a lottery ticket sold in the state won the $1.537 billion Mega Millions lottery jackpot.

The ticket, sold at the KC Mart in Simpsonville, matched all six numbers drawn Tuesday night, defying the 1 in 302.5 million odds to win the near-record prize.

The winner would become an actual billionaire only by taking the prize in annual installments over three decades and hanging onto the bulk of the money. The lucky person can also take an $877.8 million lump-sum cash payment, which most winners choose to do.

South Carolina Education Lottery officials know when and where the winning ticket was bought, but until someone turns the ticket in, they won't know who bought it. And the public may never find out. South Carolina allows lottery winners to remain anonymous after conducting a thorough investigation to confirm their identities, lottery Chief Operating Officer Tony Cooper said.

The name of South Carolina's last big winner -- a $399 million Powerball jackpot in September 2013, which at the time was the fourth-biggest lottery prize in U.S. history -- has never been made public.

"Our message to the $1.5 BILLION #Mega Millions jackpot winner: Sign the back of the ticket, place the ticket in a safe location, speak with a trusted advisor and CALL THE LOTTERY at 1-866-736-9819. Take a deep breath and enjoy the moment!" the South Carolina Education Lottery tweeted.

The winning numbers were 5, 28, 62, 65, 70 and Mega Ball 5.

The Arkansas Scholarship Lottery reported revenue of $8,357,245 on Mega Millions ticket sales for Friday's and Tuesday's drawings.

The prizes for those two drawings totaled $1,095,946, according to Bishop Woosley, lottery director. Of that total, $345,178 has been paid.

The Arkansas lottery received total Mega Millions revenue of $16,026,805 for the entire run leading to the nearly $1.6 billion jackpot. By comparison, when the Powerball jackpot reached $1.6 billion in January 2016, Arkansas' Powerball ticket sales totaled $25,391,436, Woosley said.

The prize is extraordinary by any measure, but particularly so for South Carolina. With more than $1.5 billion, an exceedingly generous winner could shower roughly $307 on each of the state's 5 million people. It's about as much as 20 percent of the state's $8 billion annual budget.

Lottery officials said the state will get $80 million in taxes. The state sold around $15 million worth of tickets just for Tuesday night's drawing, with most of the revenue going to education, Cooper said.

An earlier Mega Millions estimate of $1.6 billion would have been a world record for lotteries, but actual sales came in below the $1.586 billion Powerball jackpot prize shared by winners in California, Florida and Tennessee in January of 2016.

"Estimates are based on historical patterns," said Carol Gentry, a spokesman for the Maryland Lottery, which leads a consortium of state lotteries participating in the Mega Millions jackpot.

"The jackpot's been rolling since it was hit in July in California, but there are few precedents for a jackpot of this size," Gentry said.

South Carolina is one of eight states -- along with Delaware, Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, North Dakota, Ohio and Texas -- where winners can remain anonymous. The winner has up to 180 days to claim the prize.

"Our board has a policy to protect the winner because of all the risk associated with having that much money," South Carolina Education Lottery Director William Hogan Brown told ABC's Good Morning America.

KC Mart owner CJ Patel will also be a winner. He gets a $50,000 bonus and said Wednesday that he will share part of it with his employees. He has owned the store not far from where Greenville's suburbs turn rural for more than three years.

Patel said lottery ticket sales were brisk leading up to Tuesday, and he has no idea who bought the winner.

"I hope he will keep coming in," Patel said with a broad smile. "He'd be good for the business."

The biggest Mega Millions jackpot winner before this was a $656 million ticket sold in 2012, Gentry said.

Mega Millions is played in 44 states, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

While most attention has focused on Mega Millions, Powerball also has been soaring. The estimated prize for Powerball's annuity option in Wednesday night's drawing was $620 million, with a cash prize of $354.3 million.

Information for this article was contributed by Jack Jones and Michael Warren of The Associated Press; and by Michael R. Wickline of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

A Section on 10/25/2018

Print Headline: S.C. buyer wins Mega Millions' $1.5B; Arkansas lottery sells $8.3M in tickets over 2 drawings


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