Mega Millions winner in New Jersey anonymously claims $202 million jackpot

The lucky lottery player is the first ever in state history to collect their Mega Millions prize privately.

Someone in New Jersey is $202 million dollars richer — we just don’t know who.

The mystery player claimed their Mega Millions prize recently, making them the first in the state to do so under anonymity, lottery officials said on Tuesday.

In January 2020, a new law was passed allowing New Jersey Mega Millions winners to collect their prizes anonymously and avoid publicity. Nearly a month later, on Feb. 12, the winning ticket was announced after the prior night’s drawing.

The New Jersey Lottery said in a statement that the lucky person watched the announcement on Facebook while at work and went to their car to check their ticket.

“The winner, completely shocked, managed to compose themselves enough to get back to work while they gathered their thoughts and made a plan,” the statement said.

James Carey, executive director of the New Jersey Lottery, visited the Quick Stop Food Store in Edison where the winning ticket was sold on the day of the announcement. He awarded owners Apexa and Kauschik Patela a $30,000 commission check and offered a bit of advice to the unknown jackpot winner.

“We always tell people when you win — sign the back of that ticket right away,” Carey said at the Quick Stop. “Then put it in a safe place, talk to an attorney, talk to a financial advisor, and come to us and claim that ticket.”

The winner was indeed listening. After watching the press conference live on Facebook they “were overwhelmed with the good news and unsure what to do next.” But they eventually signed the ticket and went to a lawyer, who guided them in how to best go about securing their newfound wealth, said lottery officials.

Only a handful of other states— Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, North Dakota, Ohio and South Carolina— allow jackpot winners the choice of total anonymity, which is intended to protect winners from harassment.