Updated with additional details about the anonymous winner
The winner of the largest Mega Millions jackpot in US history — $1.5 billion — is sharing some of her newfound wealth to help others in need.
The lucky South Carolina woman, who has chosen to remain anonymous, is donating to the Alabama Red Cross to aid tornado relief and several South Carolina charities.
She decided to donate because she claimed the money when a tornado struck Alabama in early March, her lawyer Jason Kurland said.
“It just felt like we were having this great event when there were people suffering nearby,” Kurland said.
Kurland added the winner doesn’t want to announce exactly how much she’s donating to the charities.
“We spoke with the charities and agreed it would be best not to announce. We want to announce the charities to spread awareness,” Kurland said.
The other organizations include the Ronald McDonald House of Charities of Columbia, South Carolina; In The Middle, a charity that helps women with breast cancer; the City of Simpsonville Art Center; and the One SC Fund for Hurricane Florence relief.
“Words can’t describe the feeling of such incredible luck,” the winner said in a Thursday statement through her lawyer.
“I do realize that such good fortune carries a tremendous social responsibility, and it gives me a unique opportunity to assist, support and contribute to charities and causes that are close to my heart.”
She did her research before claiming the prize
The anonymous winner is a South Carolinian who was visiting Greenville from out of town and chose to take a “scenic drive during some down time” when she passed the KC Mart in Simpsonville. She decided to purchase a ticket there after the sign advertising the huge jackpot “caught her eye,” according to a press release from her attorney.
When she realized she was the winner the morning after the drawing, “complete shock and disbelief” set in and she jumped in joy, the release said.
Her prize, which she opted to take her winnings as a one-time payment of $877,784,124, was the largest jackpot ever won by a single ticket in U.S. history.
After drawing the ticket in Simpsonville last October, it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that the winner claimed her prize, sparking widespread speculation over why a winner hadn’t come forward. According to the release, the anonymous woman was researching how to remain anonymous and manage her sudden influx of cash.
She has decided to keep her identity private for her safety, her lawyer said. South Carolina is one of few states that allows lottery winners to remain anonymous.
The anonymous winner is being represented by New York attorney Jason Kurland, who specializes in lottery winning, according to his firm’s website. Some of his other large-lottery winning clients include:
- Putnam Avenue Family Trust, winner of a $254.2 million Connecticut Powerball lottery.
- Rainbow Sherbert Trust, winner of a $336.4 million Rhode Island Powerball jackpot.
- The Ning Trust, winner of a $121.6 million Powerball jackpot in Delaware two years ago.