^ Jump up to: a b If more than one play wins the jackpot in a given drawing, the prize is divided equally among 5+1 plays. Winners have one year to collect a jackpot share; for other prizes, the deadline also is one year, except in California, where it is 180 days. Other than in and Texas (see below), a jackpot winner has 60 days from either the drawing, or in some jurisdictions, after claiming, to choose cash or annuity. The relative value of actual cash jackpot share fluctuates. Jackpots began at $15 million (disbursed in 30 graduated annual payments if the annuity is chosen); the corresponding cash value fluctuates depending on interest rates.
In the United States, lotteries are run by 47 jurisdictions: 44 states plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Lotteries are subject to the laws of and operated independently by each jurisdiction, and there is no national lottery organization. However, consortiums of state lotteries jointly organize games spanning larger geographical footprints, which in turn, carry larger jackpots. Two major lottery games, Mega Millions and Powerball, are both offered in nearly all jurisdictions that operate lotteries, and serve as de facto national lotteries.
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Even though some scratch cards costing as much as $50 in Texas and $30 in Massachusetts, state lotteries are exempt from Federal Trade Commission “truth in advertising laws” The Federal Communications Commission prohibits the broadcast of lottery advertisements, but has exemptions for lotteries “conducted by a state acting under the authority of state law. Hence, TV commercials like “The Possibilities are Endless.” (Lotteries raise over $70 billion a year, according to the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries. Profits from the Powerball are used to fund public projects approved by state legislatures.)
Elecia Battle made national headlines in January 2004 when she claimed that she had lost the winning ticket in the December 30, 2003 Mega Millions drawing. She then filed a lawsuit against the woman who had come forward with the ticket, Rebecca Jemison. Several days later, when confronted with contradictory evidence, she admitted that she had lied. Battle was charged with filing a false police report the following day. As a result of this false report, she was fined $1,000, ordered to perform 50 hours of community service, and required to compensate the police and courts for various costs incurred.
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.
Drawings are usually held at the studios of WSB-TV in Atlanta, Georgia. The original host was WSB's chief meteorologist, Glenn Burns. Currently, most drawings are emceed by the full-time host of Georgia Lottery drawings, John Crow, with Brian Hooker the main substitute host. For larger jackpots, the drawing sometimes is moved to Times Square, with New York Lottery announcer Yolanda Vega co-hosting.
Presumably due to their experience with the Power Play option for Powerball, all 23 lotteries joining Mega Millions on January 31, 2010 immediately offered Megaplier to their players. The Megaplier continues to be drawn by Texas Lottery computers, as California does not offer the multiplier. Montana, offering Powerball before the expansion date, became the 24th lottery to offer the Megaplier, followed by Nebraska (the 25th), Oregon (the 26th), Arizona (as the 27th) and Maine (as the 28th lottery to offer the Megaplier option). After Colorado and South Dakota joined Mega Millions, this raised the number of lotteries offering the Megaplier to 37.
The largest jackpot in Mega Millions history was $656 million annuity value (with a cash option of $474 million) for the March 30, 2012 drawing, in which there were three jackpot-winning tickets; one each in Illinois, Kansas, and Maryland. All three tickets had been claimed by April 18, with each set of winners choosing the cash option of $158 million.
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