The Mega Millions jackpot has climbed to just shy of half a billion dollars, hitting the $475 million mark after no winners matched all five numbers plus the Mega Ball required to win the staggering jackpot, Yahoo News reports. Meanwhile, another multi-state lottery game with boffo jackpots, the Powerball game, is not far behind, with a jackpot of $350 million.
To win the Mega Millions jackpot, one simply has to match five numbers drawn from a pool of numbers between 1 and 70, and then a Mega Ball from a second pool of numbers, between 1 and 25. If no one pulls that off, then the jackpot rolls over, growing each time. No one has won for the past several weeks, bringing the jackpot to where it is now. Powerball functions similarly.
As in most big-money lottery games, there are smaller prizes for matching combinations with fewer balls, and across the country, several winners won a few thousand here and there, as happens every draw.
History-making lottery jackpots, sometimes reaching ten figures, are becoming more and more frequent these days, after both Powerball and Mega Millions changed their formats to make the odds longer, and the jackpots bigger. As of this writing, the biggest Mega Millions jackpot ever awarded to a single winner was $656 million, according to San Francisco’s KGO-TV. Meanwhile, the largest single-winner Powerball jackpot ever was $768.4 million — the largest jackpot ever awarded to a single lottery winner in U.S. history.
Of course, there’s a pretty major difference between the advertised jackpot and the amount of money the lucky winner actually winds up taking home. As previously reported by The Inquisitr, the advertised jackpot is what’s called the “annuity” jackpot, which is to say, the total amount you’ll be paid in annual installments over the course of 30 years. Or, you could take the cash option, which is roughly half of the advertised jackpot.
And there are the dreaded taxes, which will eat up your winnings regardless of which route you take. Putting aside some nuance, whoever issues your check will automatically withhold 24 percent for federal taxes, and that’s just a starting point. The top marginal tax rate is 37 percent, and Mega Millions and Powerball jackpots are pretty top-flight money, so be prepared to kiss at least a third goodbye.
The above does not include state income taxes, which vary greatly by state.
And then there’s this bit of depressing news — according to the National Endowment for Financial Education, 70 percent of lottery winners go broke again.
The next Mega Millions drawing will take place on Tuesday, June 4, at 11 p.m. Eastern Time.