The $1.28 Billion Mega Millions Jackpot and You

The Mega Millions jackpot soared to $1.28 billion this week, making it the lottery second highest prize since its creation in 1996.

At 11 p.m. Eastern Time Friday, millions of people who bought a $2 ticket at their local convenience store or a bundle of tickets with family, friends or co-workers will find out if they’ve won. Or maybe no one will win the jackpot, which has happened in the previous 29 draws.

The odds of winning are high, one in 303 million. So it probably won’t be you (sorry).

But if we’re wrong, and luck, fate, or prayer turn you into a winner, it’s safe to say you’ll face some big life decisions: is it better to take the lump sum or annual payments? Can I remain anonymous? Do I need a lawyer? And what should I do with all this money?

The jackpot swelled as no one won any of the draws, held every Tuesday and Friday, since a winning ticket on April 15 in Tennessee. On July 26, no one matched all five numbers and the Mega Ball. That brings us to that $1.28 billion moment.

Forty-five states, as well as Washington, DC and the Virgin Islands, participate in the Mega Millions lottery. Nevada, Utah, Alabama, Alaska, and Hawaii don’t, but residents of those states can still purchase tickets elsewhere and then travel to collect their prize. Tickets can be purchased in person at convenience stores and gas stations. Some people only buy one. Others buy in groups. You can even buy them online in some states, but you may face backlogs if you wait until the last minute. Sales stop 15 minutes before the draw.

The executives of Raising Cane’s, a restaurant offering chicken wings in the United States, bought a ticket for each of their 50,000 employees for the $830 million Tuesday drawing. It took a gas station eight hours to print the tickets, but the company is undeterred and will try again on Friday.

“We’re doubling down,” AJ Kumaran, the company’s co-chief executive, said in a interview with FOX’s LiveNOW Thursday. “What’s two more dollars a person?”

nine people almost won the Mega Millions jackpot on Tuesday, corresponding to the first five white balls drawn from numbers 1 to 70. The golden Mega Ball escaped them.

The last time a Mega Millions jackpot crossed the $1 billion threshold was on January 22, 2021, when the winning ticket was sold in Michigan, bringing in $1.050 billion.

Friday’s draw size is the second-largest for this lottery, but competing multi-state Powerball lottery holds a world-record jackpot for the January 2016 jackpot of $1.586 billion shared by winners in California, Florida and the United States. Tennessee.

So far, the record jackpot in Mega Millions history is $1.537 billion, which went to a single ticket purchased in South Carolina on October 23, 2018. Its winner remains unknown.

Each state that participates in Mega Millions oversees lottery operations within its jurisdiction, including sales, retailers, taxes due and other financial liabilities. Laws, including whether winners’ names must be announced, differ by state.

Marie Kilbane of the Ohio Lottery said in her state that includes whether a winner owes child support. “Internally, we verify who this person is,” she said. “With all our winners.”

Ohio is one of at least seven states that allow winners, who might be suspicious of fraud or become the target of crime, to hide their identities. Others include Delaware, Maryland, Kansas, North Dakota and South Carolina. States differ in the conditions under which they allow winners to remain anonymous or whether they can collect in the name of a trust, she said.

In Texas, a winner of $1 million or more can remain anonymous. In Arizona, winners of $100,000 or more can choose anonymity, but their city and county of residence are not confidential. In California, the names of the winners are part of the public record. Some states, like Michigan, does not allow trust for multi-state lotteries such as Mega Millions or Powerball.

Not all lottery winners are required to show up to a press conference with a broad smile, clutching a giant fake check. Under its Open Archives Act, The Wisconsin Lottery publishes the winner’s name and city upon request. All other information, including media interviews, belongs to the winner.

So you’ve just won the second biggest jackpot in Mega Millions history. Now what?

You don’t need our advice to yachts, private islands and luxury cars, but experts say a winner should get help from a reputable lawyer, financial advisor or accountant. Do your research first.

Tax advice is essential. Friday’s winner could take $747.2 million in a lump sum or choose to take the $1.28 billion payable in annual installments over 30 years. The federal government will take 24% on top, and you may also owe state taxes. Either choice will propel you into the top federal income tax bracket, currently at 37% and expected to rise in the future, as Kiplinger noted in this guide for lottery dreamers.

Before hiring a fiduciary or other financial advisers, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau suggests background checks on advisers by asking for references, checking their licensing status, and finding information about their employment history. These resources are online.

The Federal Trade Commission advise consumers to find a lawyer specializing in an area that suits their needs, which could involve tax, trusts or estates in the case of lottery winners, and to get recommendations from family, friends, colleagues or groups community. He advises checking with state and local bar associations before hiring a lawyer.

A cautionary tale: In 2019, the South Carolina record jackpot winner hired a man named Jason Kurland, who introduced himself as a “lottery lawyer.” On Tuesday, a jury in New York found him guilty of a scheme to defraud lottery winners that caused losses of more than $100 million, prosecutors said.

You should also be prepared for the possibility of long-lost relatives and roommates suddenly knocking on your door or creeping into your social media mentions.

The Virginia Lottery seemed to suggest so on Friday on his Facebook pagewhere he shared a message from a man who announced, “Before I won that 1 billion in Mega Millions, I already know all my cousins.”

“Helpful words to share with all your friends today,” the state lottery said.

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