It’s an age-old dinner party conversation piece: what would you do if you won the lottery? Well, for the anonymous South Carolina “Mega Millions” jackpot winner, fantasy meets reality. She’s donating a sizeable portion of her humongous prize win to charity.
The anonymous winner’s numbers came out on top in October of 2018. However, according to Inside Edition, financial experts advised her to wait until 2019 to claim her winnings. Funds collected in 2019 would be able to sit in the bank and accrue hefty interest, they said, and wouldn’t be eligible for taxes until April of 2020.
That’s 16 months’ worth of significant stockpiling!
The winner’s lawyer, Jason Kurland, released a statement. He shared that she was driving on Highway 417, noticed signs for the jackpot outside a KC Mart in Simpsonville, and pulled over, in a spur of the moment, to buy a ticket. Little did she know that her life would soon change irrevocably. She “never once [thought] she had the slightest chance to win,” Kurland continued.
The morning after the big draw, the soon-to-be jackpot winner checked her ticket and could barely believe her eyes. “She stared motionless at the ticket for what felt like hours,” Kurland reported. “Then came the jumping and screams of joy.”
The winner opted to remain anonymous, and lottery officials announced that she chose to accept a cash payout of US$878 million, the largest payout to a single person in United States history.
There could be good reason for the winner’s decision to stay out of the limelight: not only will her anonymity protect her family, friends, and reputation, but she will be able to do whatever she wants with the substantial winnings, free from the judgment of the media and the broader general public.
As it turns out, the winner had philanthropy in mind.
“I do realize that such good fortune carries a tremendous social responsibility,” the winner revealed in a statement to Inside Edition, “and it gives me a unique opportunity to assist, support, and contribute to charities and causes that are close to my heart.”
In particular, the now-multimillionaire has chosen to donate to an American Red Cross relief fund for victims of the recent Alabama tornado outbreak.
Alabama is no stranger to the wrath of the tornado. Most recently, a string of devastating tornadoes tore through the center of the southeastern state in March of 2019, ripping up everything in their paths, killing 23 people, and leaving numerous families disbanded. The American Red Cross themselves described the painful aftermath of the tornadoes as “as real and as raw as it gets.”
After generously donating a “substantial amount,” according to Kurland, the winner added that her personal ambition is to “live a life of relative normalcy, free of fear.” Remaining anonymous is one way to help achieve that goal.
Kurland supports his client’s decision. The savvy lawyer also warned winners to sign their tickets quickly, hold on to them, and make sure they are the ones who present the ticket in order to claim their winnings.
The ability to donate life-changing sums of money to worthy causes is an extraordinary privilege. A $1.5 billion Mega Millions ticket is not something you want to lose in the laundry!