Record Mega Millions haul unclaimed: Where the prize money could go

It's been about three weeks since one lucky South Carolina resident purchased a winning ticket for the record $1.6 billion Mega Millions haul – and the jackpot recipient has yet to come forward.

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The deadline for the winner to claim the prize in the state is April 21 – which marks 180 days since the numbers were drawn.

If no one comes forward, each participating state in the Mega Millions game will get back all the money that state contributed to the unclaimed jackpot, according to the Mega Millions website.

What happens to the unclaimed prize amounts from there varies from state to state. For example, in Michigan, the money goes to the state’s School Aid Fund, the Michigan lottery’s beneficiary. In California, the money agoes toward supporting the state’s public school system. In South Carolina, the money is also usually put toward education. In other cases, states will put the unclaimed money back into the prize pool to increase payouts for future games, according to the National Association of State and Provincial Lotteries.

The lottery is no stranger to unclaimed prizes: About $2 billion in total prize money goes unclaimed annually. Generally, the higher the drawing, the higher the likelihood there will be multiple, smaller unclaimed prizes.

In 2016 alone, in California unclaimed winnings registered at more than $24 million, according to state gaming officials. While winners in Michigan raked in more than $2 billion in claimed prizes during fiscal 2017, lotto players in the state missed out on winnings worth $27.6 million. Meanwhile, in the state of New York, unclaimed lottery winnings for fiscal 2016 through fiscal 2017 were $74 million. In the year prior, they were more than $103 million.

And some jackpot winners never claim their prizes. In 2002, a Mega Millions windfall worth $63 million went unclaimed in New York.

The amount of time allotted for claiming a winning prize varies among states, however it typically ranges from six months to one year.

The IRS will automatically take 24 percent in federal withholding taxes from the winnings, and in some states winners will owe even more.

As previously reported by FOX Business, the South Carolina winner would take home about $490.6 million if he or she opts for the cash option.