$1.5 Billion Mega Millions Jackpot Winner Has Not Claimed Prize and Time Is Running Out

Time is running out for the winner of the $1.5 billion Mega Millions jackpot to claim their prize, officials said.

The winning ticket for the Oct. 23 Mega Millions jackpot was sold at a gas station outside of Simpsonville, South Carolina. In the two months since the winning numbers were announced, the winner has failed to claim his or her prize. Winners have 180 days to claim their winnings.

"This is unusual, considering that it's $1.5 billion," South Carolina Lottery Commission's Holli Armstrong told The State.

If the winner does not claim his or her prize by late April, the winnings will be returned to the 44 states that host Mega Million lotteries. The money would mean $11.2 million to South Carolina's education fund, a step decline from the estimated $70 million the state would collect in state taxes as part of a payout.

The gas station that sold the winning ticket will also lose out on $50,000 if the winner does not come forward, WJHL reported.

There were a couple of theories as to why the billion-dollar winner has not come forward. One theory was that the winner was no longer in South Carolina. An out-of-state visitor can purchase a Mega Millions ticket in the state but must redeem the winnings with the South Carolina Lottery Commission, according to The State.

Another theory was that the winner was waiting in order to get their financial situation in order. Tax experts said the winner may be looking for professional tax advisers or may be waiting to claim the money until after the new year for tax purposes.

A winner who claims their ticket in 2018 would have to pay tax on the winnings by April 15, 2019. However, if the winner waits until after January 1, 2019, then they would not have to pay tax until April 2020.

"That's 16 more months it can sit in a bank and collect interest," Joe Poore, a senior manager with an accounting firm in Greenville, South Carolina, told The State. "That could be a difference of millions of dollars."

No one won the Christmas night Mega Millions drawing, making Friday's drawing worth an estimate $348 million. The new Mega Millions jackpot was the 30th-largest jackpot played in the U.S. and the 13th biggest Mega Millions in history, according to USA Today.

The winning numbers in Tuesday's Mega Millions drawing were: 2-8-42-43-50 and a gold Mega Ball of 6. A person in Missouri won $1 million after matching the first five numbers and another person in Connecticut won $3 million for matching the first five numbers as well as the 3x megaplier.

Mega Millions can be played in 44 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The six states that do not participate in the Mega Millions drawings are Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Mississippi, Nevada and Utah.

The next drawing will be held on Friday at 11 p.m. ET. The estimated jackpot of $348 million has a cash option of $210.2 million, according to the Mega Millions Website.

Mega Millions
A woman fills out a Mega Millions lottery ticket on October 19, 2018 in New York City. No one has claimed the October 23 jackpot for $1.5 billion won in South Carolina. ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty Images