It has been over a month since a Mega Millions ticket worth $1.337 billion – the third-largest lottery prize in the country – was sold in Illinois, and the winner has yet to come forward.
The winner still has over 330 days yet to collect their prize under Illinois state law, but what if they never do? Who then collects the jackpot?
Don’t expect a refund if you bought a ticket (or maybe more than one). A re-drawing won’t happen either.
Instead, if the Mega Millions jackpot drawn on July 29, 2022, goes unclaimed, the 45 states (as well as Washington, D.C.) that participated in the Mega Millions game will get back the funds their state contributed to the pot, according to the game’s website.
From there, each state can use its prize funds for its own purposes.
Illinois, for example, would transfer its part of the jackpot to the Illinois Common School Fund, which supports K-12 education in the state, a spokesperson tells Nexstar. Most states make similar contributions, like Vermont, where most of the unclaimed prize money is used for the Vermont Education Fund.
The California, Missouri, and South Carolina lotteries also give unclaimed lottery funds to support their public schools while Kentucky’s unclaimed funds help support the Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship.
In addition to transferring funds to support education in the state, the Georgia Lottery contributes $200,000 to the state’s Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities for education and treatment programs for problem gambling.
New York’s lottery will either return unclaimed prize money to the prize pool, use it to subsidize other games or promotions, or to support education in the state. In Tennessee, unclaimed prizes are split between after-school programs and to offset expenses related to future prizes.
Pennsylvania uses its funds “to support programs benefiting older Pennsylvanians.” In Oregon, unclaimed prizes are used to “fund the voter-approved beneficiaries.” Texas funds are used for state programs authorized by the legislature.
Colorado Lottery uses unclaimed prize money for its distribution fund, which benefits the Great Outdoors Colorado, the Conservation Trust Fund, and Colorado Parks & Wildlife.
Some states, like Connecticut, use their unclaimed funds as additional revenue for the state, promotions of other lottery drawings, or additions to the jackpot. Kansas law requires funds remain in the prize fund, meaning it can be added in subsequent games. With the exception of jackpot winnings, unclaimed prizes are used for future games in Iowa. Louisiana follows a similar practice.
It will be nearly a year before your state has the chance to collect their portion back though. The winner of July’s Mega Millions jackpot still has 11 months to come forward with their ticket (winning numbers were 13-36-45-57-67, Mega Ball: 14). Illinois Lottery officials say the ticket was purchased at a Speedway gas station in the Chicago suburb of Des Plaines.
When they collect their prize, the winner would have the option of remaining anonymous, with the ability to have both their name and the municipality of residence withheld, under Illinois law.
The lucky winner could be preparing themselves financially before coming forward. They can either accept the $1.337 billion prize with the annuity option, meaning it’s paid annually over 29 years, or as the cash option, which would be around $780.5 million for this jackpot. It’s also possible the ticket was bought by a group of people.
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