(NEXSTAR) — It has been more than two weeks since a ticket sold in Illinois perfectly matched the Mega Millions drawing, landing the third-largest lottery prize in the nation. Yet no winner has come forward to claim the $1.337 billion reward.
In Illinois, a Mega Millions winner has one year after the drawing date to claim their prize, meaning the winner of July’s nearly $1.4 billion jackpot has over 340 days yet to come forward. But if it is never claimed, the record-setting prize could eventually become the largest unclaimed lottery jackpot in U.S. history.
A Mega Millions jackpot hasn’t gone unclaimed in over 16 years. In August 2006, nobody claimed a $31 million ticket sold in Queens.
The two other unclaimed Mega Millions jackpots listed on the game’s site were also from New York. In 2003, a ticket sold in Brooklyn worth $46 million was never claimed. One year prior, a $68 million jackpot went unclaimed.
Two Powerball jackpots have gone unclaimed since early 2003, according to a list on Powerball’s website.
The first was in 2011 in Georgia. The unclaimed prize would have granted the lucky winner $77 million if they selected the annuity option or $40.83 million in cash. The second was a 2013 ticket in Florida worth $50 million in an annuity, or $31.13 million in cash.
If last month’s $1.337 billion award isn’t claimed, it will become the largest unclaimed Mega Millions or Powerball prize in the U.S.
|Unclaimed Prize||Prize size|
|2022 Mega Millions sold in Illinois||$1.337 billion|
|2011 Powerball sold in Georgia||$77 million (annuity)|
|2013 Powerball sold in Florida||$50 million (annuity)|
|2002 Mega Millions in New York||$68 million|
|2003 Mega Millions in Brooklyn||$46 million|
|2006 Mega Millions in Queens||$31 million|
There are currently four Powerball jackpots that haven’t been claimed yet this year, the largest being a $473 million ticket sold in Arizona, according to Powerball.
What happens if nobody claims the Mega Millions jackpot?
The winner (or winners, if it was purchased by a group) still has nearly a year to claim their prize. It is possible they are consulting with legal, tax, or financial advisors, which experts recommend you do before claiming large lottery prizes.
But if the Mega Millions jackpot isn’t claimed within the required time, states that participated in the game will get back the funds they contributed to the pot, according to the game’s website. From there, each state can use its prize funds for its own purposes.
In Illinois, for example, the funds become part of the Illinois Common School Fund to support K-12 education, a spokesperson for the Illinois Lottery tells Nexstar.
Additionally, when the winner comes forward, they would have the option of remaining anonymous, with the ability to have both their name and the municipality of residence withheld, under Illinois law. The Illinois Lottery would still announce when the prize has been claimed.
The winning ticket — with numbers 13-36-45-57-67, Mega Ball: 14 — was bought at a Speedway gas station in the Chicago suburb of Des Plaines.
According to Illinois Lottery, the Speedway will receive half a million dollars just for selling the ticket.
If you are lucky enough to have won the jackpot — or any lottery drawing, for that matter — officials recommend immediately signing the back of your ticket. The ticket isn’t really yours until it’s been signed, meaning if you lose it before signing and someone else finds it, they get to collect the prize.
Mega Millions is played in 45 states as well as Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The game is coordinated by state lotteries.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.