After 25 consecutive drawings without a winner, someone finally did win the mega jackpot. Now, it’s an estimated $1.35 billion prize, which is the fourth-largest lottery prize in U.S. history and the second-largest Mega Millions prize ever.
The winner of the Mega Millions jackpot can choose an annuity that pays out over 29 years or a cash option. The annuity option starts with an immediate payment and then increases by 5% each year.
Despite a long wait, a lucky ticket buyer has finally snagged the illusive mega jackpot. The winner is reportedly from Maine, which has never before held the prize, but did have its share of lottery sleuths and connoisseurs alike. The big question is, will the winning ticket be claimed by the rightful occupant, or will it fall into the hands of someone else? There are a host of factors that could decide the fate of the lucky ticket holder, including state laws, state and local regulations, as well as the whims of the unwitting guinea pig. It should be no surprise then that the shady clones, aka scam artists and unscrupulous lottery operators, are already in the fray. The best way to avoid this kind of mess is to do a bit of legwork and avoid the common pitfalls.
Odds of winning
Getting a winning ticket in the lottery can be exciting but also a lot of work. To win the jackpot you have to pick five numbers between 1 and 69 and one Mega Ball from 1 to 26.
Each game costs $2 per ticket and players can choose to add the “Megaplier” option for another $1. This can multiply any non-jackpot prize you win.
But the odds of winning the Mega Millions jackpot are still relatively slim compared to other unlikely events. For example, the chance of being hit by lightning in a given year is about 1 in a million.
So you might be thinking, if I have a better chance of getting hit by lightning than winning the Mega Millions jackpot then what’s the point? But that’s actually not true.
Rubbing your hands together at the big jackpot in this week’s Mega Millions lottery draw is not without a tax hit. Depending on where you live, the winnings could be subject to federal and state taxes.
Most winners choose to receive their prize money as a lump sum, but the IRS will take a cut before you pocket it. And if you decide to take the jackpot as an annual annuity instead, you’ll be paying even more in taxes over the next 29 years.
The federal government will take 24% of your winnings upfront, and then you’ll owe the rest when you file your tax return. The annuity option would result in 30 payments that increase 5% a year, and your tax burden could reach $28.3 million over the course of 29 years.
The jackpot for the Mega Millions drawing on October 28, 2017 was a whopping $1.6 billion. A single ticket sold in Maine won the big one.
To be eligible to win the top prize, you must match all five main numbers plus the gold Mega Ball. The odds of winning the jackpot are a comparatively small 1 in 20 million, but it’s still an exciting prospect.
The best part is that you don’t have to be rich or famous to take home the top prize. You can choose to have your winnings paid out in a lump sum or an annual annuity. The Mega Millions jackpot is also pari-mutuel, which means that it will be divided equally amongst all the winners, regardless of where they’re from. See the game rules for more information. Those who can’t wait until the next draw, can try their luck by playing the “Just the Jackpot” option. It’s a $3, two-game play that multiplies your winnings by 2 to 5 times and does the smallest possible job of matching all five main numbers and the gold Mega Ball in one go.