Why the Mega Millions winner waited months to claim her lottery jackpot
COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina woman who won the largest jackpot payout to a single winner in U.S. history has chosen to remain anonymous. But Thursday, she provided more details about why she waited so long to claim the winnings in a news release from her attorney, which was shared by the S.C. Lottery.
South Carolina is one of just a few states — along with Delaware, Kansas, Georgia, Maryland, North Dakota, Ohio and Texas — that allow lottery winners to remain anonymous, The State reported.
The woman who won the Mega Millions prize said she’s thankful for that, and wants to keep her identity a secret from the public to live “free of fear,” according to the news release from attorney Jason Kurland.
Remaining anonymous was a factor in the months in between the Oct. 23, 2018, sale of the winning ticket at a Simpsonville convenience store, and her coming forward to the S.C. Lottery on March 4.
The winner had up to 180 days to claim the prize, said a release from Lottery.net, a site devoted to lottery news.
She said she was searching for someone who could assist her in making decisions on handling her winnings — a one-time payment of $877,784,124, The State reported.
“I want to make sure I make all of the right decisions, which is why I have taken this amount of time to collect my prize,” she said in the news release.
“We respect the winner’s decision to remain anonymous, and we will honor the winner’s wishes,” said Hogan Brown, the S.C. Education Lottery Commission’s executive director, according to a news release.
Her lawyer said in the news release that the winner plans to use some of the money for “philanthropic endeavors” in South Carolina, and also specifically in Simpsonville. She is going to donate to charities, including the Ronald McDonald House of Charities of Columbia; One SC Fund — for Hurricane Florence Relief; In The Middle, Columbia; the City of Simpsonville Art Center; and American Red Cross Alabama Region — Tornado Relief Fund, according to the news release.
“I do realize that such good fortune carries a tremendous social responsibility, and it gives me a unique opportunity to assist, support and contribute to charities and causes that are close to my heart,” she said in the news release.
She also provided a little more insight into how she wound up with the winning ticket.
According to the news release, the woman was visiting Greenville and went on a “scenic drive,” which led her to Simpsonville and the KC Mart, which is about 90 miles northwest of Columbia.
She bought the ticket on a whim, the news release said. She allowed someone to cut in front of her in line at the store to also buy Mega Millions ticket, which the S.C. Lottery called “a simple act of kindness (that) led to an amazing outcome.”
The winner had another description for it — “incredible luck,” according to the news release.
The next morning, when she realized she had the only winning ticket, her emotions swung wildly from motionless “shock” to “disbelief” and finally “jumping” and “screams of joy,” the news release said.
“Words can’t describe the feeling of such incredible luck,” the woman said in the news release.