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Mega Millions jackpot winner scoops estimated prize of $1.34 billion

“We don’t know whether or not they even know that they won a prize. So, I encourage everybody to check your ticket," said the director of the state lottery department.
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Someone in Illinois woke up a billionaire Saturday after a single ticket won the Mega Millions lottery jackpot.

One ticket matched all six numbers in Friday's drawing the white balls 13, 36, 45, 57 and 67, and the gold Mega Ball 14.

The lucky winner has not yet come forward to claim the prize, Harold Mays, director of the Illinois Department of the Lottery, said.

"We don’t know whether or not they even know that they won a prize," he said at a news conference Saturday. "So, I encourage everybody to check your ticket."

The top prize increased to $1.34 billion due to last-minute sales Friday, according to Mays. Previously, it had been estimated at $1.1 billion.

If the winner chooses the lump sum cash option, they will receive $780 million, Mays said.

The ticket was sold at a Speedway gas station in Des Plaines, a suburb of Chicago. The business will receive half a million dollars as a selling bonus.

Friday’s jackpot was the second-largest prize in the history of the game, which began in 1996.

The jackpot was so big because no one had matched all five numbers and the “mega ball” since April 15, more than three months ago.

Mega Millions was changed in 2017 in order to encourage larger top prizes. The starting jackpot went from $15 million to $40 million, and the changes decreased the chances of winning from one in 258.8 million to the current odds of one in 302.5 million. But officials said at the time there would be better odds of winning $1 million prizes.

It was adjusted again in 2020 due to slowing sales amid the coronavirus pandemic, and has been unchanged since. That dropped the starting jackpot from $40 million to $20 million and also eliminated a minimum jackpot increase. The increase was tied to sales and interest rates.

In 2018, someone in South Carolina won the largest Mega Millions jackpot ever — $1.5 billion. They chose to remain anonymous when claiming the prize. It also passed $1 billion last year when someone won a $1.05 billion jackpot.

The other lottery game that occasionally grabs attention with huge prizes, Powerball, has also reached $1 billion territory, but only once, in 2016. In that case the holders of the three winning tickets that were sold in three states split the money.