By MARK LONG, JULIE WALKER and FREIDA FRISARO Associated Press
NEPTUNE BEACH, Fla. (AP) — A single ticket sold in Florida is good for a $1.58 billion Mega Millions jackpot, ending weeks of anticipation over who would win the eye-popping top prize.
A Publix grocery store in Neptune Beach sold the winning ticket, according to the Florida Lottery. The winning numbers drawn Tuesday night were 13, 19, 20, 32, 33 and the yellow ball 14.
A message was left seeking comment Wednesday from Publix.
James F. Davis, secretary of the Florida Lottery, said Wednesday that officials don’t yet know who bought the winning ticket. He noted that the person has 180 days to present the ticket to lottery officials in Tallahassee to receive the winnings.
“These individuals are going to perhaps contact a lawyer, contact a financial adviser and make sure they get their ducks in a row,” Davis told The Associated Press. “Because as you know when you are a winner you have an opportunity to be able to make such a difference in so many individual lives.”
Davis was in Iowa on Wednesday for a meeting of the Multi-State Lottery Association.
“I actually walked into the meeting room and everyone proceeded to start clapping, which was pretty exciting and exhilarating all at the same time,” he said.
Davis said he had been holding out hope that Florida would get a big winner in one of the multi-state lottery games, such as Mega Millions and Powerball.
“I’ll just tell you the last two winners of the Powerball have been in California, and I’ve been keeping my fingers crossed for the next winner to be here in the state of Florida,” he said.
One Publix employee arriving for work at the Neptune Beach store saw another and said “Mary, did you win the billion dollars?”
“Nope, and I assume you didn’t, either,” replied the other.
Neptune Beach is one of the many beachside communities along the Atlantic Ocean in northeast Florida. Like any beach town, it has a mix of affluent neighborhoods and some less-ideal spots. Several former and current players and coaches of the NFL football’s Jacksonville Jaguars live in the area.
Before the big win, there had been 31 straight drawings since the last time someone won the game’s jackpot on April 18. That enabled the prize to steadily grow to be the third-largest in U.S. history.
Mega Millions jackpot winners are so rare thanks to odds of one in 302.6 million.
The $1.58 billion payout would go to the winner if they opt for an annuity, doled out over 30 years. But people usually prefer a lump sum option, which for Tuesday’s jackpot was an estimated $783.3 million.
The prize money is subject to federal taxes. Many states also tax lottery winnings.
A Florida law that went into effect last year allows the winners of lottery prizes in excess of $250,000 to remain anonymous for 90 days. Also of note, there is no state income tax in Florida.
Mega Millions is played in 45 states, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Neptune Beach has just over 7,000 residents and is 16 miles (25 kilometers) east of Jacksonville on Florida’s Atlantic Coast.