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$1 Billion Lottery Prize Ticket Was Sold in Michigan

An unidentified person bought the Mega Millions ticket at a grocery store in Novi, Mich. It was the third-biggest jackpot in U.S. history.

  • Jan. 23, 2021

The winning ticket for a $1 billion jackpot, the third-biggest lottery prize in U.S. history, was sold at a Michigan grocery store, according to state lottery officials.

The winning numbers, which were drawn on Friday night, were picked by a customer at a Kroger grocery store in Novi, a city of about 60,000 people that is 30 miles northwest of Detroit.

State lottery officials said the identity of the winner will not be known until the person contacts them. Michigan law requires that winners of games played across states, such as Mega Millions and Powerball, be publicly identified, said Jake Harris, a spokesman for the state lottery.

The winner can choose to collect the prize through an initial payment and then annual payments for 29 years, or receive a one-time cash payment of about $739 million. In that case, the winner would get about $530 million, after taxes, state lottery officials said.

If the winner chose an annual payout, the initial payment would be about $11.3 million after taxes, with payments increasing 5 percent every year. The final payment would be about $46.7 million after taxes, Mr. Harris said.

The odds of winning the jackpot were 1 in 302,575,350, according to Mega Millions. The winning numbers in the Mega Millions lottery were 4, 26, 42, 50 and 60, with a Mega Ball number of 24.

The numbers were picked two days after the numbers were selected for a winning ticket in a $731 million Powerball jackpot, which was sold in Lonaconing, Md., a down-on-its-luck former mining town in the virus-battered northwestern corner of the state. The winning ticket was sold at Coney Market, a convenience store that sells subs and pizza in Lonaconing, a town of about 1,200 in Allegany County, which has the most Covid-19 cases per capita in the state. About a quarter of the population of Lonaconing lives below the poverty line, according to census data.

A spokeswoman for Kroger congratulated the winner in Michigan and the mayor of Novi, Bob Gatt, said the news came a month after the city was named “the second-most innovative city in the country” by Entrepreneur magazine.

He described Novi as a rapidly growing city that had once been a rural outpost of Detroit but was now a hub of car manufacturing that was attracting tech companies like Google.

Mr. Gatt said he was “ecstatic” for the winner. “I’d be better if I had the winning ticket,” he said.

The jackpot was the second-largest prize in the history of Mega Millions.

In 2018, a person who chose to remain anonymous won $1.537 billion in South Carolina. That prize remains the world’s largest lottery prize ever awarded on a single ticket, according to Mega Millions.

The biggest lottery prize ever awarded in the United States was a $1.586 billion Powerball jackpot in 2016, according to The Associated Press. It was divided among three ticket winners in California, Florida and Tennessee.

A lingering mythology holds that the winners of big jackpots become cursed after their strokes of good fortune. There are numerous accounts of winners who, unequipped to manage their newfound wealth, go on to struggle with drugs or alcohol, ruined relationships and insolvency.

While one influential study in 1978 found that lottery winners were not any happier than their neighbors or more optimistic about the future, other studies have countered the notion of the so-called lottery curse.

The studies suggest that the winners’ general psychological well-being bounces back over time.

In 2018, a New Hampshire woman filed a lawsuit to keep her name from being released to the public after she won $560 million in the Powerball lottery.

Lawyers for the woman, who called herself Jane Doe in the lawsuit, said she wished to use a portion of her winnings for charity “far from the glare and misfortune that has often fallen upon other lottery ‘winners.’”

An unidentified person bought the Mega Millions ticket at a grocery store in Novi, Mich. It was the third-biggest jackpot in U.S. history.

Who Wants To Be A Billionaire? $1 Billion Winning Lottery Ticket Sold In Michigan

A patron, who did not want to give his name, uses the lottery ticket vending kiosk at a Smoker Friendly store to purchase tickets for the Mega Millions lottery drawing Friday in Cranberry Township, Pa. Keith Srakocic/AP hide caption

A patron, who did not want to give his name, uses the lottery ticket vending kiosk at a Smoker Friendly store to purchase tickets for the Mega Millions lottery drawing Friday in Cranberry Township, Pa.

It’s the kind of purchase many shoppers make on impulse. Eggs, milk, yogurt and — why not? — a lottery ticket.

With just six numbers drawn Friday night — 4, 26, 42, 50, 60 and the Mega Ball of 24 — a ticket sold at a Michigan grocery store made somebody one of the richest people in the country.

“Someone in Michigan woke up to life-changing news this morning, and Kroger Michigan congratulates the newest Michigan multimillionaire,” Rachel Hurst, a regional spokeswoman for the grocery chain, told The Associated Press.

Only one person in the entire country picked all the winning numbers for the Mega Millions jackpot. So unlike in other big drawings, they won’t have to split the prize. The odds of winning were 1 in 302.5 million.

It’s the third-largest lotto jackpot in U.S. history. The winner — who purchased the ticket at a Kroger grocery store in the Detroit suburb of Novi — has a choice of whether to split that up into 30 annual installments or to take an upfront cash payment of $776.6 million minus a couple hundred million for taxes.

Friday’s jackpot came after 37 consecutive drawings with no winner. The dry spell wasn’t just due to bad luck; lottery ticket sales are down about 50% from their peak in October 2018, the AP reports. Some have blamed it on “jackpot fatigue.”

The coronavirus pandemic also caused a decline, as more people stayed home instead of waiting in line for their chance at a fortune. In response to sagging sales, officials at Powerball reduced starting jackpots from $40 million to $20 million in March. A few weeks later, Mega Millions followed suit.

Friday’s winner has not come forward, but they may have to eventually. State law says that winners of Michigan-only lotteries can remain anonymous — but Mega Millions is played across 45 states, plus Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

“Your identity may be disclosed, and that disclosure may be required, as the winner of any prize from the multi-state games Powerball and Mega Millions,” the Michigan Lottery website states.

Friday’s jackpot is the second big prize this week. On Wednesday, a Powerball winner in Maryland won $731.1 million (with a $546.8 million cash option).

The largest single-ticket jackpot in the country’s history was claimed in early 2019, when someone in South Carolina who won $1.5 billion stepped forward to collect the winnings on a Mega Millions drawing held five months earlier. That winner, who remained anonymous, chose to take a lump sum of nearly $878 million.

The next Mega Millions jackpot will start at $20 million.

It’s the third-largest lotto jackpot in U.S. history. The odds of winning the top prize were 1 in 302.5 million. ]]>