The Mega Millions drawing tonight gives lottery players a chance to not only get rich, but rich beyond their wildest dreams — okay, well, maybe not their wildest dreams. But dreaming of $400 million is pretty wild. That is the size of tonight’s jackpot that goes to anyone who matches all six numbers drawn tonight in Atlanta, Georgia.
Tonight’s jackpot is the seventh-largest lottery prize in United States history.
The $400 million Mega Millions jackpot would go to a winner who has selected the “annuity” option. In other words, that person wouldn’t collect the whole prize at once but instead would take the cash in annual checks averaging $13,333,333 per year — for 30 years. Probably enough of an annual wage to keep anyone in chips and dip.
That total is before taxes, of course. After paying Uncle Sam his cut, the Mega Millions winner would be forced to survive on a take-home sum of $10 million per year.
Winners generally opt for the “cash value” option. That is, one single payment, of an amount considerably less than the announced jackpot. In the case of Tuesday night’s Mega Millions drawing, the cash value single payment would come before taxes, to a “mere” $224.8 million. The government’s bite reduces that to $168.6 million.
But again, one hopes that would be an adequate sum for any winner to subsist on, for at least a while.
The current Mega Millions jackpot started on January 7 as a relatively paltry $15 million. But as drawing after drawing passed with no winner, the prize multiplied. Last year, the Mega Millions game changed its format, which has produced a spate of large jackpots — but it accomplished that by making the game even harder to win.
The odds against you, for each single Mega Millions number you play, are an eye-popping 258,890,000 to one.
With those chances, frankly, it is incredible that anyone ever wins Mega Millions.
So what could you buy with your Mega Million winnings of you hit the Mega Millions numbers tonight? Well, how about the NHL’s Florida Panthers, a team valued at $240 million. Or, you could get your name on a baseball stadium. The Minute Maid corporation paid $170 million for the rights to name Minute Maid Par in Houston.
Of course, there’s a good chance no one will win tonight, driving the Mega Millions jackpot even higher. $500 million, anyone?