$1.6 billion Mega Millions winning ticket sold in South Carolina

Nothing could be finer for someone in South Carolina.

Mega Millions officials said a ticket purchased in South Carolina matches all six numbers in Tuesday night's drawing. The massive jackpot is the world's largest ever lottery grand prize.

And it's possible that the world will never know the winner.

South Carolina is one of eight states — along with Delaware, Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, North Dakota, Ohio and Texas — where winners can remain anonymous.

On Tuesday night, there was nervous anticipation in Maryland leading up to the 11 p.m. announcement of the winning numbers.

“Should I get 10 or 30?” Amanda pondered as she stood inside the vestibule of an Exxon station on West Cold Spring Lane. She asked The Baltimore Sun to withhold her surname in case she wins the lottery and suddenly has relatives and old acquaintances coming out of the woodwork asking for money.

“I’ll do 30,” she said, and rattled off the numbers that she hoped would yield a $1.6 billion payoff.

Everyone, of course, has a plan for what he or she will do with the money. Amanda would give much of it to her church, and try to “fix Park Heights,” she said. But she’d put much of it in savings.

“Come back and holler at you when I win, all right?” she told the cashier as she swung open the glass door.

Trishia Damico, 37, a server at Blue Stone restaurant, said she had already bought tickets with her co-workers. Her boss was holding on to the tickets “because he said everybody’s not going to quit at the same time.”

FAQ: Everything you need to know about playing the lottery in Maryland »

As she bought another ticket Tuesday night, Damico let herself fantasize about what she would do with the cash. Pay off her mom’s house, for one. “I work so hard and struggle to make ends meet that the thought of being able to pay my bills … ”

Alicia Brown had been selling lottery tickets all day long at the Stadium Lounge on Greenmount Avenue.

“I personally never bought one," she said. “I was thinking about buying one earlier, then I thought, my luck’s not that good.”

Just before 11 p.m., a few remaining hopefuls lined up at a kiosk at the 7-11 convenience store on Key Highway to get their last-minute shot at a new life. If he won, Taylor Roethle, 23, planned to invest the money in real estate. “Port Covington’s pretty close,” he said.

Neon Miller, 36, planned buy a rancher on the water to move to with his wife and kids — and to just go fishing for the rest of his life.

Winners in Maryland have 182 days after the drawing date to claim their prize. Winning tickets valued at $25,001 or more must be redeemed at the lottery’s office in Baltimore.

The estimated jackpot is the largest lottery prize ever. The jackpot has been growing since July, when a group of California office workers won $543 million.

The $1.6 billion prize reflects the annuity option, paid over 29 years. However, nearly all winners take the cash option, which for Tuesday's drawing was an estimated $913 million.

The winning numbers were 5, 28, 62, 65, 70 and Mega Ball 5. No details on where the winning ticket was sold were immediately available. But the lucky player overcame miserable odds: The chance of matching all six numbers and winning the top prize is 1 in 302.5 million.

Mega Millions is played in 44 states as well as Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

It will likely be days or even weeks before a winner steps forward to claim the prize.

Lottery officials and financial managers encourage people to take time to map out a strategy for investing their hundreds of millions of dollars, and winners must deal with security concerns befitting someone who suddenly is immensely wealthy. Depending on the state, winners have from 180 days to a year to claim their prize.

The Mega Millions jackpot grew so large because it had been nearly three months since a player had matched all six numbers and won the top prize. The last time that happened was July 24, when 11 co-workers from California won a $543 million prize.

Although Tuesday's jackpot was extraordinarily large, it's no fluke. It reflects a trend toward ever-growing lottery prizes due to changes in the game that worsened the odds with hopes that bigger jackpots would result in better sales.

Officials with the Powerball game were the first to make that move in October 2015 when changing the odds of winning the jackpot from 1 in 175 million to 1 in 292.2 million. Mega Millions followed suit in October 2017, resulting in the odds worsening from 1 in 259 million to 1 in 302.5 million.

While most attention has been on the Mega Millions game, Powerball also has been soaring. The estimated prize for Powerball's annuity option in Wednesday night's drawing is $620 million, with a cash prize of $354.3 million.

Mega Millions is played in 44 states as well as Washington and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

ctkacik@baltsun.com

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The Associated Press and other news services contributed to this article.

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