Florida Lottery Player Wins Mega Millions Jackpot In Wake Of Hurricane Ian

Written By Steve Schult on October 19, 2022
Hurricane Ian Florida Lottery

Just a few weeks ago, Hurricane Ian ravaged Southwest Florida. But a lottery player in the area got some economic relief after purchasing a winning ticket.

According to the Florida Lottery, a gambler from the region won at least $123.95 million last week. The player won a share of the $494 million Mega Millions jackpot drawn last Friday. The player bought the ticket at a 7-Eleven in Fort Myers, the closest major city to where Ian made landfall.

The Mega Millions drawing spans 45 states. Another winning ticket was bought in California, so that the Florida player will take home one-half of the nine-figure jackpot.

After officials added the most recent sales to the jackpot, the total ballooned to $504 million. Therefore, each winner is entitled to $252 million. However, they both have the option to take their winnings in a one-time lump sum, which pays $123.95 million before taxes.

The anonymous winner has two months to file a claim

According to the Mega Millions rules, the owner of the winning ticket has 60 days to file a claim for the prize. However, they have 180 days to pick up the cash.

Florida allows winners to remain anonymous for 90 days after they claim the prize. Thus, the winner could hide their identity for another nine months.

The winning numbers were 09-22-26-41-44 and the Mega Ball was 19. Both jackpot winners matched all five numbers and the Mega Ball.

The retailers of both winners will receive a $100,000 bonus for selling the ticket.

There were tickets in New Jersey, North Carolina and Texas that got the five numbers correct but missed the mega ball. Those winners got $1 million each. But the player in Texas added the Megaplier option and doubled their prize to $2 million.

Now, the jackpot resets to $20 million and will steadily increase until someone hits it again.

Hurricane Ian wreaked havoc on Fort Myers

The economic windfall couldn’t come at a better time for the Florida player. The damages from the category 4 storm that rocked the area are estimated to be more than $67 billion.

Most of the damage came from excessive flooding. Fort Myers and Naples were two of the hardest-hit cities in the state.

The damages could’ve been much more expensive. Despite being tied for the fifth-strongest hurricane to make landfall in the United States, the devastation was fairly localized.

Most meteorologists expected the eye of the storm to move up the west coast of the state. The expected path of the hurricane would’ve caused massive damage to the Tampa area.

According to a report from the Tampa Bay Times, one forecaster called it a “potential historic catastrophe.” In response, the Seminole Tribe closed its properties on the gulf coast, including the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tampa.

But the storm moved east and lost steam as it moved across land. Outside of the Fort Myers area, the state was relatively safe.

Photo by Shutterstock.com
Steve Schult Avatar
Written by
Steve Schult

As Managing Editor of PlayFL, Steve will stay on top of all things related to the Florida gaming industry. He is also a veteran of the gambling world. The native New Yorker started covering high-stakes tournaments in 2009 for some of poker's most prominent media outlets before adding the broader U.S. gaming market to his beat in 2018.

View all posts by Steve Schult