October 24, 2018 / 3:12 PM / 22 days ago

Winning lottery ticket sold in South Carolina for $1.5 billion jackpot

(Reuters) - Only one ticket matched all six numbers in the U.S. Mega Millions lottery for a jackpot of $1.537 billion, just short of a world record, an official said on Wednesday.

The ticket was sold in Simpsonville, South Carolina, at a KC Mart convenience store, the city’s Mayor Janice Curtis said in a telephone interview on Wednesday.

The town of 22,000, about 14 miles from Greenville, was abuzz as people clamored to learn more about the winner, but in South Carolina, the person who hit the jackpot can opt to remain anonymous.

The buyer of the ticket beat the odds of 1 in 303 million to win the Mega Millions drawing for one of the largest jackpots in U.S. history.

The jaw-dropping jackpot failed to break the record for lottery winnings, held by the $1.586 billion Powerball prize in January 2016.

The Powerball lottery also had a huge prize at stake on Wednesday when 3, 21, 45, 53, 56, and a Powerball of 22 were drawn. The $620 million jackpot made it the fifth-largest in U.S. history. The lump sum cash payout is estimated at $354.3 million.

Before the Mega Millions drawing, lottery officials had been reporting an expected $1.6 billion jackpot, based on estimates tied to historical patterns, lottery spokeswoman Carole Bober Gentry said on Wednesday.

After the drawing, lottery officials rolled back the jackpot total to $1.537 billion, based on actual ticket sales.

“There are few precedents for a jackpot this size. Typically, about 70 percent of sales occur on the drawing day, so forecasting precise numbers in advance can be difficult,” Gentry said in a statement.

For the winner, options include an immediate cash payment of $877.8 million, or the $1.537 billion prize paid out over 29 years.

There were 36 second-tier winners, those who picked five winning numbers but did not match the Mega Ball. Most were rewarded with a $1 million prize, but two of them, in Florida and Texas, added a Megaplier option, tripling their winnings to $3 million.

Across the game’s nine prize tiers, there were more than 15.7 million winning tickets in Tuesday’s drawing.

In the four days leading up to the drawing, about 370 million of the $2 Mega Millions tickets were sold in 44 U.S. states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands.

Slideshow (5 Images)

Sales reached nearly $740 million during that time, lottery officials said.

Several states allow online ticket purchases, but they prohibit out-of-state and foreign purchases.

States receive a percentage of lottery ticket sales and use the money to support public schools or to meet other needs.

Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee; Additional reporting by Suzannah Gonzales in Chicago, Barbara Goldberg and Peter Szekely in New York; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Bernadette Baum

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