South Carolina

‘Big, big win for SC’: $1.5B lottery jackpot shines national spotlight on state

The SC Lottery has a message to the Mega Millions winner

The South Carolina Education Lottery announces winner in $1.5 billion Mega Millions contest Wednesday Oct. 24, 2018, in Simpsonville, SC.
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The South Carolina Education Lottery announces winner in $1.5 billion Mega Millions contest Wednesday Oct. 24, 2018, in Simpsonville, SC.

C.J. Patel stood outside KC Mart No. 7 in Simpsonville and told a crowd of locals and media that the store “is always lucky to me.”

He owns the store in a suburban section of Simpsonville that borders on rural. But for a Mega Millions ticket holder, it’s also a lucky store for them. Patel’s store sold the winning ticket in Tuesday night’s $1.5 billion Mega Millions jackpot.

The store sold the lucky ticket with the numbers 5, 28, 62, 65 ,70 and the mega number 5.

CJ Patel is the owner of KC Mart No. 7 in Simpsonville. David Travis Bland

State lottery officials announced Wednesday that the winning ticket was sold at KC Mart #7 at 303 Lee Vaughn Road in Simpsonville. The winner has 180 days to collect the jackpot.

The person or persons with the lucky numbers has yet to come forward and has the option to remain anonymous, said Tony Cooper, chief operating officer of the S.C. Education Lottery.

But Cooper described reaction to the winning ticket being sold in South Carolina with a word not found in the dictionary.

“Pandomoneous-jolyfication,” he said.

It’s not just a win for one or more ticket holders, but for South Carolina as well, Cooper said. The state is set to receive about $70 million stemming from the win.

“It’s a big, big win for South Carolina,” Cooper said.

Those earnings are likely to increase too, Cooper said, as a climbing Powerball lottery is set to be drawn Wednesday night. The jackpot for Powerball had climbed to $620 million by Wednesday afternoon.

Lottery officials are anticipating higher sales of Powerball tickets following the record drawing on Tuesday.

The stakes could also be a boon for Simpsonville, Mayor Janice Curtis said.

The winner doesn’t stand much chance of staying anonymous if he or she is local, Curtis said.

“Everyone knows your business and what they don’t know they make up along the way,” she said.

The store became a gathering spot for local and national media as well as customers hoping to cash in on the store’s success. About two dozen media outlets sent crews to cover Wednesday’s news conference, and a crew from NBC News arrived about 1.5 hours after the news conference started.

Customers, shocked and giddy about the community’s sudden notoriety, lined up to buy tickets for the next Mega Millions and for the growing Powerball pot.

Rolfe Hughes, a Simpsonville resident, said he’s driven passed the station a “million times,” but he’d never bought a lottery ticket. On Wednesday, that changed.

He bought seven Powerball tickets, one for each member of his family. He won an umbrella already after spinning a wheel set up by lottery officials at KC Mart. And when he found out the KC Mart’s full name is KC Mart No. 7, he’s starting to think it could be his lucky day too.

Micah Valentine stood at the Mega Millions ticket station filling in a card with numbers.

Although he is a financial planner, he thought it couldn’t hurt to forget the odds for a second and just choose some numbers. His advice for the potential winner and for anybody who suddenly receives a lot of money is to “not tell anybody except your very close friends” and “that it could be kind of an error to go and pay off a lot of family debts.”

If he was to get a fat new injection to his bank account, he’d take a bit of it to save for his kids’ college, and he’d donate to his church. He’d also take a vacation with his family, he said.

Micah Valentine fills out a Mega Millions ticket at KC Mart No. 7 in Simpsonville. The winning ticket in Tuesday’s $1.5 billion Mega Millions jackpot was sold at the store. David Travis Bland

For Patel, there’s no doubt the ticket sell is a victory. His store receives $50,000 for selling the winning ticket. He said he’ll spread the money to his employees and do some upgrades to the store. He hopes the new billionaire will come back even if the winner’s identity is hidden. And he hopes the ticket buyer is from around Simpsonville.

“Hopefully it’s a local guy to spend it in the community,” Patel said.

The South Education Lottery announces winner in $1.5 billion Mega Millions contest Wednesday Oct. 24, 2018, in Simpsonville, SC.

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