CHICAGO - Two people have come forward to claim the $1.34 billion Mega Millions jackpot almost eight weeks after a single winning ticket to the late July drawing was sold in a Chicago suburb, Illinois Lottery officials said Wednesday.
The winners, who agreed to split the prize if they won, have elected to remain anonymous, but said they are "over the moon" with their huge victory.
"They stopped into the Speedway in Des Plaines and grabbed a Mega Millions ticket while they were there," Illinois Lottery Director Harold Mays said. "That turned out to be an absolutely life changing decision when a $3 line of Mega Millions with Megaplier turned into a $1.34 billion jackpot win."
The winners have opted to take the lump sum payment of $780.5 million. They spent the past few weeks working with professional legal and financial advisors to support the claim process — something experts recommend lottery winners do.
"I’ve been working for the Illinois Lottery for over five years, and this is by far the largest prize I’ve ever had to process. When we met with the winners’ lawyers there was a real buzz of excitement in the room," Illinois Lottery Claims Manager Luis Rodriguez said in a statement.
"It’s a surreal feeling giving away this amount of money and knowing what a huge impact this is going to make on the winners’ lives, and for others close to them as well. It was an incredible feeling just to be part of that process — so I can only imagine how the winners themselves are feeling."
Illinois is among the states where winners of more than $250,000 can choose to not reveal their names.
The two, who followed the lead of the vast majority of winners who choose to remain anonymous, had until Sept. 27 to opt in favor of the lump sum payment, said Emilia Mazur, spokeswoman for Camelot Illinois, the private manager of the Illinois Lottery.
The jackpot for the July 29 drawing was the nation’s third-largest lottery prize. It grew so large because no one had matched the game’s six selected numbers since April 15, going 29 consecutive draws without a jackpot winner.
"These winners are now in the enviable position of deciding what to do with their newfound fortune," said Illinois Lottery Director Harold Mays.
According to megamillions.com, one jackpot-winning ticket was bought at a Speedway gas station and convenience store in Des Plaines.
The winning numbers were: 13-36-45-57-67, Mega Ball: 14.