The $1.28 billion Mega Millions jackpot and you

This week’s Mega Millions jackpot has soared to $1.28 billion, making it the second-largest jackpot since the lottery began in 1996.

At 11 p.m. ET Friday, millions of people who bought $2 tickets at their local convenience store or with family, friends or colleagues will know if they’ve won the lottery. Or maybe no one will win the jackpot, which is what happened in the previous 29 paintings.

The odds of winning are 1 in 303 million. So it probably won’t be you (sorry).

But if we’re wrong and luck, fate or prayer makes you the winner, it’s safe to say you’ll be faced with a major life decision: is it better to make a one-time payment or an annual one? Can I remain anonymous? Do I need a lawyer? What should I do with the money?

No one has won in any of the sweepstakes held every Tuesday and Friday since April 15 in Tennessee. On July 26, no one matched five numbers and the Mega Ball. Which brings us to this $1.28 billion moment.

Forty-five states, as well as Washington, D.C. and the Virgin Islands, participated in the Millionaire Lottery. Nevada, Utah, Alabama, Alaska and Hawaii do not, but residents of those states can still buy tickets elsewhere and then travel to claim their prizes. 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 if you wait until the last minute, you could face a backlog. Sales stop 15 minutes before the draw.

Executives at Raising Cane’s, a chicken wing restaurant with locations across the U.S., bought a ticket for each of its 50,000 employees on Tuesday for an $830 million raffle. It took the gas station eight hours to print the ticket, but the company is still undeterred and will try again on Friday.

“We’re doubling down on the bet,” AJ Kumaran, the company’s co-CEO, said in an interview with FOX’s LiveNOW on Thursday. “What’s the other two dollars per person?”

Nine people came close to winning the Mega Millions jackpot on Tuesday, matching the first five white balls drawn from numbers 1 to 70. The golden super ball avoided them.

The last time the Mega Millions jackpot crossed the billion-dollar threshold was on January 22, 2021, when the winning ticket was sold in Michigan for a net $1.05 billion.

Friday’s draw was the lottery’s second-largest, but the competing multi-state Powerball lottery held the January 2016 world record for the $1.586 billion jackpot, shared by winners in California, Florida and Tennessee .

The record jackpot in Mega Millions history to date is $1.537 billion, a single ticket purchased in South Carolina on October 23, 2018. Its winner is still unknown.

Each state participating in Mega Millions oversees lottery operations within its jurisdiction, including sales, retailers, taxes owed and other financial liabilities. Laws, including the need to publish winners’ names, vary from state to state.

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

Ohio is one of at least seven states that allow the identity of winners who may be targeted for fraud or crime to be hidden. Others include Delaware, Maryland, Kansas, North Dakota and South Carolina. She said states differed in what conditions allowed winners to remain anonymous, or whether they could collect funds in the trust’s name.

In Texas, winners of $1 million or more can remain anonymous. In Arizona, winners of $100,000 or more can choose to remain anonymous, but their city and county of residence are not kept secret. In California, winners’ names are part of the public record. Some states, such as Michigan, do not allow multi-state lotteries such as Mega Millions or Powerball.

Not all lottery winners have to show up at a press conference with a huge fake check. Under its public records laws, the Wisconsin lottery is required to release the names and cities of winners. Any other information, including news media interviews, is up to the winner.

So you’ve just won the second largest jackpot in Mega Millions history. How to do?

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

Tax advice is key. Friday’s winner can receive a one-time payment of $747.2 million or an option to pay $1.28 billion in annual installments over 30 years. The federal government will deduct 24% of the maximum, and you may also owe state taxes. As Kiplinger points out in this lottery dreamer’s guide, either option will put you in the top federal income tax bracket, currently at 37%, with plans to rise in the future.

Before hiring a trustee or other financial advisor, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recommends checking the advisor’s background by asking referees, checking their license status, and finding information about their professional history. These resources are online.

The FTC recommends that consumers seek out an attorney who specializes in areas relevant to their needs, which may involve taxes, trusts, or a lottery winner’s estate, and get advice from family, friends, colleagues, or colleagues. community groups. It recommends consulting with state and local bar associations before hiring an attorney.

A cautionary tale: In 2019, South Carolina’s record-setting jackpot winner retained a man named Jason Kurland, who called himself a “lottery attorney.” A New York jury found him guilty on Tuesday of a scheme to defraud lottery winners that caused more than $100 million in damages, prosecutors said.

You should also prepare for the possibility of long-lost relatives and college roommates suddenly knocking on doors or sliding into your mentions on social media.

On Friday, the Virginia Lottery appeared to suggest the same on its Facebook page, which shared a message from a man who announced: “I knew all my cousins ​​before I won this billion-dollar millionaire. .”

“Share useful words with all your friends today,” the state lottery said.

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