PORTLAND, Maine — The winner of the $1.35 billion Mega Millions jackpot — the fourth largest in U.S. history — has emerged to collect the prize, state officials said Wednesday.
The winner of January’s drawing was, and remains, a mystery.
The Maine State Lottery said the winner chose to remain anonymous and chose to collect the money through a limited liability company, LaKoma Island Investments LLC, instead of receiving the full amount in payments over time.
“The winner is thoughtfully considering the best uses of the life-changing prize,” a representative said in a statement.
By choosing the cash option, the winner will receive a one-time, lump sum payment of $723,564,144 before taxes, officials said.
The winner had the option of coming forward with the winning ticket in person or remaining anonymous through a trust, lottery officials said.
The winning ticket was confirmed when a representative arrived at the lottery’s headquarters in Augusta on Friday, and the wire transfer will be made before the end of the week, said Michael Boardman, deputy director of the Maine Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages & Lottery Operations. .
“I understand why someone would want to remain anonymous with this kind of money. We wish them the best of luck and hope they do good things with it,” he said.
The winning ticket for the January 13 drawing was purchased at Hometown Gas & Grill in Lebanon, located on a busy highway in a small town near the New Hampshire border.
Owner Fred Cotreau said he had no idea who had the winning ticket.
“We’ll wait and see if it’s local. Who knows? Sometimes they come to the store and say thank you, but I’m not going to lose any sleep over it,” said Cotreau, who shared half of the store’s $50,000 proceeds from the sale of the winning ticket with his employees.
If the winner chose to accept the full amount, there would be 30 payments over 29 years, Boardman said.
By accepting the payout, the winner will receive more than $498 million after taxes, Boardman said. Taxes of $173.6 million will go to the federal government and $51 million to the state, he said. The limited liability company that will receive the money from the state has been incorporated, he said.
The winner beat steep odds of 1 in 302.6 million, in the Friday the 13th draw, no less. He was Maine’s first winner of the Mega Millions jackpot, which is played in 45 states as well as the District of Columbia and the US Virgin Islands.