Tony Cooper addresses the Media as C.J. Patel looks on. Lottery officials announced that the $1.6 billion Mega Millions Jackpot ticket was sold at the KC Mart #7, owned by C.J. Patel, at 303 Lee Vaughn Road in Simpsonville. Gwinn Davis / Special to The Post and Courier

A South Carolina woman who won the $1.5 billion Mega Millions jackpot in October still wants to keep her identity a secret, but she has revealed some of her spending plans. 

The woman was visiting Greenville in October and decided to go on a scenic drive around town. She stopped at a KC Mart in Simpsonville that was advertising the large jackpot, according to a press release from Jason Kurland, her New York-based attorney. 

She found out the next morning that she had the winning ticket and was in a state of disbelief, she told lottery officials. She quickly hired a team of legal experts and spent the next six months researching her options before announcing she was the winner.

The woman told lottery officials she wanted her identity to be hidden from the public, something only a handful of states allow.

Mega Millions

The S.C. Education Lottery posted a reminder on Twitter last week that April 19 is the deadline for the winner of the $1.537 billion Mega Millions to claim the grand prize. File/Staff

Kurland, a self-described "lottery lawyer," said his client plans to give money to several South Carolina charities and organizations, including Ronald McDonald House Charities of Columbia, One SC Fund for Hurricane Florence relief, In The Middle of Columbia, and the city of Simpsonville Art Center.

She will also donate money to the American Red Cross's Alabama tornado relief fund to assist with recovery after the tornadoes that struck earlier this month left 23 people dead. 

“Words can’t describe the feeling of such incredible luck,” she said in the release. “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.”

The woman decided to take a one-time payment of $877.8 million. It is the largest jackpot payout ever to a single winner. 

South Carolina will collect $61 million in income taxes as its share of the jackpot.

If she hadn’t surfaced before the six-month deadline — she came forward with less than two months remaining — the entire pot would have been divided among all 44 states participating in the Mega Millions contest, based on each state’s percentage of total sales.

That would have put about $11 million into South Carolina’s unclaimed prizes fund, according to state economists. 

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Reach Thomas Novelly at 843-937-5715. Follow him @TomNovelly on Twitter. 

Thomas Novelly reports on crime, growth and development as well as military issues in Berkeley and Dorchester counties. Previously, he was a reporter at the Courier Journal in Louisville, Kentucky. He is a fan of Southern rock, bourbon and horse racing.

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