TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — If you are wondering who won the largest Mega Millions jackpot in the game’s history, you will likely have to wait a few months.
So far, all we know is that the winning ticket worth $1.602 billion — this is the finalized total; the prize was advertised as $1.58 billion before the drawing — was sold at a Publix on Atlantic Boulevard in Neptune Beach, Florida. The winning numbers in Tuesday’s drawing were 13, 19, 20, 32, and 33, and Mega Ball 14.
That Publix location will receive a $100,000 bonus for selling the winning ticket, according to the Florida Lottery.
We also know the jackpot is the state’s fourth and largest Mega Millions jackpot, and the second-largest lottery prize in U.S. history. After officials adjusted the final prize to be $1.602 billion, the jackpot surpassed a $1.586 billion Powerball jackpot split by three tickets — one each in California, Florida, and Tennessee — in 2016, but it failed to surpass a $2.04 billion Powerball jackpot hit last year by a California ticket.
The winner won’t, however, be an instant billionaire.
While Florida does not automatically withhold a state lottery tax on prizes like this, the winnings are subject to federal tax withholdings, which equate to about 37%. That means after taxes, the cash prize — $794.2 million — comes out to slightly more than $500 million. Taxes would also have an impact on the annuity payments.
Regardless of their desired payout, the winner will have to claim their prize at the Florida Lottery Headquarters in Tallahassee within 180 days.
That means that by February 4, 2024, the jackpot winner will have had to come forward in order to receive their payout. However, according to the lottery, if the winner wants to receive the cash option, they must claim their prize within the first 60 days of the drawing — for this jackpot, that’s October 7.
It will likely be about another three months after the winner claims their prize until we know who they are.
A Florida state law passed in 2022 protects the winner’s identity for up to 90 days, as a shield against potential violence. A Jacksonville legislator proposed the bill after Florida and Georgia lottery winners had reportedly been targeted after a big win.
The bill, House Bill 159, was signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis in May 2022. According to the bill, lottery players who win a prize worth more than $250,000 will have their identities protected for 90 days from the date that they claim their prize. However, the winner can release their name early if they choose to do so.
After the 90 days, state law requires the Florida Lottery “provide records containing information such as the winner’s name, city of residence; game won, date won, and amount won to any third party who requests the information.”
Should the prize go unclaimed, the funds will be reallocated back to the states that participated in the game, in the amount that they contributed.
It’s possible the winner is preparing for what to do next with their winnings. Experts encourage lottery winners to surround themselves with professionals like an attorney, a tax advisor, and a financial advisor before claiming the prize.
As for the current Mega Millions jackpot, it has reset to its starting point of $20 million ahead of Friday’s drawing.
Mega Millions is played in 45 states, as well as the District of Columbia. Tickets start at $2 each, and there are nine total ways to win.