In California, prize levels are paid on a parimutuel basis, rather than the fixed lower-tier amounts for winners in other Mega Millions jurisdictions. California's eight lower-tier Mega Millions prize pools are separate from those shared by the other 45 lotteries. California's second prize is a "secondary jackpot"; its payout sometimes exceeds $1 million cash, even though California does not offer the Megaplier.
The original version of Lotto America (stylized as Lotto*America) was a $1-per-play, pick-7-of-40 game, rather than the pick-6 games that had become wildly popular in U.S. lotteries. Matching four numbers won a fixed prize of $5; matching at least five won a parimutuel prize. Matching all seven won the jackpot, whose odds were roughly 1 in 18 million, at the time the longest odds of a U.S. lottery game. The top prize was a 20-year annuity; there was never a cash option, even though a few games did offer one when L*A ended.
Since the secondary prizes are defined in fixed amounts (except in California), if the liability for a given prize level exceed the funds in the prize pool for that level the amount of the prize may be reduced and the prize pool be distributed on a parimutuel basis and result in a prize lower than the fixed amounts given in the prize tables. Because the secondary prize pools are calculated independently, it is possible lower-tier prizes will differ among the game members.
Generally, Powerball players do not have to choose cash or annuity unless they win a jackpot (then they usually have 60 days to choose.) Exceptions include Florida and Missouri; the 60-day "clock" starts with the drawing, so a jackpot winner who wishes to take the cash option needs to make immediate plans to claim their prize. New Jersey and Texas require the cash/annuity choice to be made when playing; in New Jersey, an annuity ticket can be changed to cash after winning, while in Texas, the choice is binding (when the cash option was introduced in 1997, all Powerball players had to make the choice when playing. This regulation was phased out by 1999.) All Powerball prizes must be claimed within a period ranging from 90 days to a year, depending on where the ticket was bought.
A Powerball jackpot winner may choose to receive their prize in 30 payments over 29 years or a lump-sum payment. The cash value option, in general, is the amount of money required to be in the jackpot prize pool, on the day of the drawing, to fund the estimated jackpot annuity prize. The advertised jackpot annuity and cash value are estimates until ticket sales are final, and for the annuity, until the Multi-State Lottery Association takes bids on the purchase of securities.
The largest Mega Millions jackpot, advertised as $640 million at the time of the drawing (annuitized) or $462 million (cash value), was drawn on March 30, 2012. The initial estimate for that drawing (following the March 27 drawing, which was $363 million annuity) was $476 million (later increased to $500 million and again to $540 million); brisk ticket sales pushed the jackpot values, both annuitized (to $656 million) and the cash option ($474 million) higher. The amount spent on Mega Millions for drawings following its previous jackpot win, on January 24, 2012, was at least $1.5 billion. three jackpot-winning tickets had been confirmed (Illinois, Kansas, and Maryland).
Another study looked at winners. In 2015, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services analyzed data from the Bureau of Alcohol and Beverage and Lottery Operations on individuals who won money in the state lottery. Some 4,865 winning tickets of $1,000 or more were cashed in by 3,685 individuals receiving state benefits over the previous five years, reaching $22 million in lottery jackpots of various sizes. So — unless they were an unusually lucky group of people — they likely spent far more than any other group on tickets.