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Can the winner of the $1.58 billion Mega Millions jackpot stay anonymous?

Florida isn't a state where winners can remain anonymous, meaning the winner will have to publicly come forward eventually if they want to claim their prize.

WASHINGTON — Somebody in Florida has won the $1.58 billion Mega Millions jackpot, the third-largest lottery prize in lottery history. 

A Publix grocery store in Neptune Beach sold the winning ticket, according to the Florida Lottery. The winning numbers drawn Tuesday night were: 13, 19, 20, 32, 33 and the Mega Ball 14.

Before the big win, there had been 31 straight drawings since the last time someone won the game’s jackpot on April 18. 

The unknown winner will only get the $1.58 billion payout if they opt for the annuity option over 30 years. Most people go for the lump sum cash option, which in this case was an estimated $783.3 million before taxes. 

Who won the Powerball jackpot?

While we don't know who bought that winning ticket just yet, we will in less than a year. 

Florida isn't a state where winners can remain anonymous, meaning the winner will have to publicly come forward eventually if they want to claim their prize. 

In Florida, winners have 180 days, or around 6 months, from when the winning numbers were picked to claim the jackpot, according to the Florida Lottery. 

State law says that the winner's name and city of residence must be disclosed to anybody who requests the information, although street addresses and phone numbers are kept confidential. 

Last year, Florida changed its disclosure laws to allow lottery winners to temporarily exempt themselves from public disclosure for 90 days after claiming their prize if they won more than $250,000, although winners can waive this exemption. 

Essentially, if the winner claims their prize on the last day possible within the 180-day window, it will be another three months before their identity is revealed. 

Most lottery jackpot winners stay anonymous if they can, fearing unwanted attention and unscrupulous grabs for the money. Those in favor of identifying winners argue that it helps maintain transparency and public trust in the games.

When the winner of last fall's record-setting $2.04 billion Powerball jackpot claimed his prize in California, lottery officials shared his name and released a statement from him. But that winner - Edwin Castro - did not appear at the announcement event and declined the opportunity to do any media interviews. 

Lottery officials also usually recommend jackpot winners take some time to calm down and talk to a financial planner before rushing to the nearest lottery office. 

Is there any way to avoid having their name released?

Actually, there is! 

State Farm, in their FAQ on what to do if you win the lottery, suggests "forming a blind trust through your attorney to anonymously receive the money, keeping your name out of the spotlight." 

It's a move that's been used recently to claim winnings without disclosing the winner's identity.

We may never know the identity of the Maine winner who claimed the $1.35 billion Mega Millions jackpot back in February of this year, despite Maine not being an anonymous-winner state. That's because they accepted the winnings through the limited liability company LaKoma Island Investments, LLC, according to a release from the Maine State Lottery.

The winner chose the cash option, a one-time lump-sum payment of $723,564,144 before taxes, the Maine State Lottery release stated. 

“The winner is thoughtfully considering the best uses of the life-changing prize,"  a representative for the winner said in the release.

Where was the winning $1.58 billion Mega Millions jackpot ticket sold?

The winning ticket was sold at a Publix grocery story in Neptune Beach, Florida. 

Neptune Beach has just over 7,000 residents and is 16 miles east of Jacksonville on Florida's Atlantic Coast. The median household income for the city in 2021 — the last year the U.S. Census has public data for — was $98,856. 

The ticket is the largest single-winner prize ever for a Florida resident. In 2016, a Florida winner was among the three people who claimed the second-largest ever lottery prize, a $1.586 billion Powerball jackpot. 


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