The winner of the $1.58 billion Mega Millions Jackpot bought their ticket at a Publix grocery in Neptune Beach, but it may be a while before we know who bought the winning ticket.
Gone are the days of speedy press releases naming big lotto winners.
In the case of the $1.58 billion jackpot winner, it could be months before their identity is revealed.
“$1.58 billion, that is a red flag for anyone trying to get an easy payday,” said State Senator Tracie Davis (D-Jacksonville).
Davis sponsored legislation last year that resulted in the policy change.
The idea came about after years of stories involving lottery winners being scammed, threatened, and even murdered.
The most notable example is Abraham Shakespeare, who was murdered after hitting a $30 million Jackpot.
“He was befriended by a woman and literally buried in his own driveway because they were after his money,” said Davis.
Now, lottery winners of prizes totaling $250,000 or more have 90 days after collecting their earnings where they can keep their names anonymous.
“And that gives them time to talk to a lawyer, put money in trusts and put some things in place for their own protection,” said Davis.
It is optional though, and locals outside the winning store in Neptune Beach were split on whether they’d take advantage of it.
“I would definitely delay that. Get everything kind of in line before,” said Amberlee Hewett.
“I’ll come right out. Everybody’s going to know,” said Michael Morris.
The 90-day period kicks in only after the winner claims their prize.
They have 180 days to do so, meaning it could be as long as nine months before we know who won.
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