A winning Mega Millions ticket sold in Fort Myers, Florida, is offering a glimmer of hope to an area still struggling to rebuild weeks after Hurricane Ian unleashed a fury of destruction and devastation.
Two lucky Mega Millions tickets matched all six numbers in Friday’s drawing — 9, 22, 26, 41, 44 and the Mega Ball 19 — for a prize totaling $494 million.
One ticket was sold in California and the other at a 7-Eleven convenience store on Colonial Boulevard in Fort Myers, the Florida Lottery announced Monday. The winners will split the jackpot for about $247 million each.
“This win feels slightly more meaningful,” Florida lottery officials said in a statement.
This is the third time the state had a Mega Millions jackpot winner, according to the lottery department.
As of Tuesday morning, neither winner had stepped forward to claim the prize.
In Florida, jackpot winners have 180 days from the date of the drawing to claim their prize, but only 60 days after the winning draw date to collect the lump-sum cash payment, which in this case would be $123.95 million.
In California, the winning ticket was sold at a 7-Eleven on Kooser Road in San Jose, lottery officials said in a tweet. The winner has one year to come forward.
7-Eleven said they are thrilled by the news.
“We’ve always known our customers across the nation are winners! We couldn’t be happier that these extra lucky customers won in 7-Eleven stores in Fort Myers, FL and San Jose, CA,” a spokesperson said in a statement.
The win in Florida comes weeks after the Category 4 hurricane slammed into the state on Sept. 28. More than 130 deaths have been attributed to the storm, according to an NBC News count based on statements by local and state authorities, making the storm Florida’s deadliest hurricane since 1935.
Fort Myers was one of the hardest-hit areas. One resident said she hopes the Mega Millions winner will give some of the money to a local charity to help people still struggling to get on their feet.
“We were all affected in some way,” she said to NBC’s Kerry Sanders. “So it would be a nice thing to do, nice gesture.”
Another resident said she was just happy that there was some good news coming from the Fort Myers area.
“After Hurricane Ian and [its] devastations, it’s kind of nice to know that somebody was able to win that kind of money,” she said.
Lottery officials in the state said they hope the winnings could “have a positive impact” on the area.