Mega Millions jackpot winning ticket bought in Illinois

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(NewsNation) — After 29 consecutive draws, someone beat the odds and won the $1.337 billion Mega Millions jackpot. 

One winning ticket was bought in a Des Plaines, Illinois Speedway Friday night, according to megamillions.com.

Winning numbers were 13-36-45-57-67, Mega Ball: 14.

This jackpot was the nation’s third-largest lottery prize. It grew so much because no one matched the game’s six selected numbers since April 15.

Illinois Lottery officials had estimated the winning take at $1.28 billion but revised the number up to $1.337 billion on Saturday.

According to the Illinois Lottery, the store that sold the ticket will receive half a million dollars just for selling the ticket. 

However, lottery officials may not know who won for a while: winners don’t have to come forward right away, and the winning ticket may have been bought by a group of people.

“We won’t know whether it’s an individual or its a lottery pool until the winner comes forward to claim their prize,” National Mega Millions spokeswoman Danielle Frizzi-Babb said.

Even the store clerk at the suburban Chicago Speedway that sold the winning ticket told the Associated Press he had not been officially notified about it. Instead, the clerk said, he found out about the winning ticket from reporters calling for comment.

Experts the AP talked to said it’s a good idea for the winner of this jackpot to keep a low profile for now, so they’re not inundated with requests for money and to avoid scammers. One thing the winner should do immediately is sign the ticket. If a winner loses an unsigned ticket, and someone else finds it and signs it, they can then claim it.

In Illinois, winners of more than $250,000 can choose to not reveal their names. Camelot Illinois spokeswoman Emilia Mazur said the vast majority of winners do that.

The Mega Millions craze gave some states hope for a revenue boost in their future. State lottery systems use that money to boost education, tourism, transportation and much more. Lottery officials in South Carolina, for instance, said 43 cents of every dollar spent directly supports the state’s education lottery account. 

Critics, however, say lower-income players, who primarily foot the bill for these benefits by buying lottery tickets won’t be helped as much by them.

Match 5 winners were in California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Los Angeles, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin. Match 5 + Megaplier winners were found in Arizona, Florida, Iowa and Pennsylvania. 

Past winners have gotten pretty creative with their purchases. A couple who won $28.7 million in the Mega Millions built a water park for $200,000. Another man got himself a wrestling league, although the 19-year-old’s idea fizzed out after one season. 

Mega Millions said the next estimated jackpot is $20 million with a cash option of $11.6 million.

What were the odds of someone winning?

Friday’s luck winner had odds of just 1 in 303 million of drawing the winning numbers… it doesn’t take a math whiz to realize those are steep odds.

In other words, Friday’s winner was 300 times more likely to be struck by lightning. We’ll take the winning lottery ticket in that scenario any day.

Feeling bad you didn’t win? No need to worry, it was not a bad stroke of fate or destiny that kept your ticket from being the winner. It was simply just math, and that’s just the way it is, said mathematician Lew Lefton on NewsNation Tonight.

“That’s just the reality. The numbers are only going to pick 1 in 300 million,” Lefton said. “A lot of people have no idea what that really looks like.”

What does that really look like? Lefton said first, imagine you have $156,000 in pennies, 15.6 million pennies, weighing 86,000 pounds, equivalent to 24 midsize cars.

Now put those pennies on a football field, all tails up, and yes, there is enough there to cover the entire field. Then, flip ten of those pennies heads up. Now, if you were to take another penny and throw it on the football field, your odds of striking one of those ten heads up pennies is the same odds of winning the lottery.

“But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t play,” Lefton said. “Because it is fun to dream.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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