To play Lotto America, pick five main numbers between 1 and 52 and one Star Ball from a separate pool of 1 to 10. You can choose your own numbers or ask for a Quick Pick. It costs $1 per line to play, while you can also add the All Star Bonus to your ticket for a small additional fee for the chance to increase any non-jackpot prize. Find out more about how to play Lotto America, and then just pick up a playslip from any participating retailer to take part.
Remember, the advertised Mega Millions jackpot is the annuity jackpot, which means it's the amount that you would receive if you were to opt for the money to be paid out over 29 annual payments (plus a one-off initial payment). For example, for an advertised jackpot of $200 million, the initial payment would be approximately $3 million, with future payments growing to as much as $12.4 million per annum. However, almost all jackpot winners take the cash option that is paid in one lump sum that, on average, is 60% of the advertised jackpot.
Lottery winners can choose to receive the money in either an annuity — annual allotments over 30 years — or to get it all at once in a single payment for a smaller amount. For example, the lump sum on the $502 million jackpot would be $301 million, according to lottery site USAMega.com. If a single winner takes the single payment, the federal tax withholding would be over $75 million. Then, there are state taxes too.
Having initially played 'little sister' to Mega Millions, changes made to Powerball in January 2012 and October 2015 meant that the Powerball lottery now consistently awards the biggest lottery jackpots in the world. In the year after the 2012 changes just under one in two (actual amount: 50 out of 104) Powerball draw jackpots were more than $100,000,000.
America's two biggest lottery games, Mega Millions and Powerball, have combined jackpots of nearly $900 million in drawings this week. The jackpot in the next Powerball drawing, to be held Wednesday, Jan. 3, is an estimated $460 million. The next Mega Millions drawing, where the jackpot is an estimated $418 million, takes place Friday, Jan. 5. A surge in ticket sales could boost both jackpots.

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If you do find yourself at 11 p.m. ET Tuesday with the winning ticket in your hands, be prepared to keep quiet after that initial scream of joy to your spouse or other loved one, said certified public accountant Daniel Mahler of Gisler & Mahler in Bloomingdale, N.J. And sign your ticket; that establishes it as yours before you go to the nearest lottery office to claim your prize.


In Georgia, New Jersey, and Texas, players must choose, in advance, whether they wish to collect a jackpot prize in cash or annuity. Georgia and New Jersey winners can change an annuity ticket to cash should they be eligible for a jackpot share; however, the choice is binding in Texas. The other Mega Millions members allow the cash/annuity choice to be made after winning (usually 60 days after claiming the ticket), although in Florida the 60-day "clock" starts with the drawing in which the jackpot prize was won.
The structure of the draw is one which regular lottery players will be very familiar with; players must pick 5 regular numbers from a pool with a total of 69 numbers and in addition to these regular number picks, you also choose one bonus ball (known as the Powerball) from a pool of 26. These two pools of numbers are mutually exclusive and remain completely separate throughout the drawing procedure. In order to jackpot the US Powerball, you need to match all 5 regular numbers and the Powerball. Do this and you are instant Powerball millionaire – it’s as simple as that!
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