The Mega Millions jackpot was most recently won in the draw on 24 July 2018 when after 22 rollovers, a single ticket purchased in San Jose, California won a jackpot worth $543 million ($320.5 million cash), the 3rd largest Mega Millions jackpot ever! Roland Reyes claimed this incredible jackpot prize on behalf of a group of 11 co-workers from the financial industry. Each of the winners contributed just $2 to the joint ticket, which was purchased with a Quick Pick random number selection. The members of the office pool said they planned to continue working despite the enormous prize money they won.
On January 13, 2016, the world's largest lottery jackpot, an annuity of approximately $1.586 billion, was split among three Powerball tickets in Chino Hills, California, Melbourne Beach, Florida and Munford, Tennessee, each worth $528.8 million. Since there is no income tax in Florida or Tennessee (and California does not tax lottery winnings), the cash option after Federal withholdings is $187.2 million each.
Lottery jackpots are overwhelming played by low-income Americans, studies show. In fact, the lottery jackpot only becomes “progressive” — meaning that high earners spend more on tickets than more than low earners — when the jackpot is at least $806 million or more, according to this study by Emily Oster, currently a professor of economics at Brown University.
Powerball numbers are drawn from two sets of numbers, so the odds of winning a prize are calculated by combining the odds for both sets of numbers for all prize levels. The odds for matching just the Powerball are calculated by combining the odds of selecting the Powerball and the odds of not selecting any of the five numbers from the first set of numbers drawn.
In the aftermath of the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, the legislature in Albany, fearing a monumental loss of revenue, passed legislation the following month, which was signed by Governor George Pataki, which included joining a multi-jurisdictional lottery game. Around the same time, for entirely different reasons, Ohio's governor also gave the green light to joining a multi-jurisdictional game. Both lotteries opted to join The Big Game, which, at the time, was offered in seven states. The added populations of the two new jurisdictions, in turn, led to a larger double matrix. The first machine continued to hold white 52 balls, while 16 gold balls were added in the second, meaning there were 52 numbers to pick from in both parts of each $1 game. On May 15, 2002, the game was renamed The Big Game Mega Millions; shortly after, it became just Mega Millions. Except for the 2010 cross-selling expansion, this was the only time The Big Game or Mega Millions simultaneously added more than one member.
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These changes were made to increase the frequency of nine-figure jackpots; a Powerball spokesperson believed a $500 million jackpot was feasible (it became a reality within the year,) and that the 1st $1 billion jackpot in US history would occur by 2012 Less than three months after the Powerball changes, Mega Millions' jackpot reached $656,000,000 despite remaining a $1-per-play game. The random Power Play multiplier was retired for a set, fixed dollar amount payout. The $25 million rollover "cap" (creating larger 5+0 prizes) was eliminated.
The average chief executive of an S&P 500 company made $13.1 million per year in 2016 — equivalent to 347 times more money than the average worker, according to separate data released by Executive Pay Watch, a report conducted by the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO). “When adjusted for inflation, the average wage has remained stagnant for 50 years,” it found. Given this growing gap between the rich and poor in the U.S. the almost impossible odds of winning, Bernal describes $10, $30 and $50 scratch cards and lottery tickets a “Hail Mary investment strategy for the poor.”
Drawings for Powerball are held every Wednesday and Saturday evening at 10:59 p.m. Eastern Time. Since October 7, 2015, the game has used a 5/69 (white balls) + 1/26 (Powerballs) matrix from which winning numbers are chosen, resulting in odds of 1 in 292,201,338 of winning a jackpot per play. Each play costs $2, or $3 with the Power Play option. (Originally, Powerball plays cost $1; when PowerPlay began, such games were $2.) The official cutoff for ticket sales is 10:00 p.m. Eastern Time; some lotteries cut off sales earlier. The drawings are usually held at the Florida Lottery’s studio in Tallahassee.
Every jurisdiction has its own law on winners remaining anonymous. Some jurisdictions are required by law to provide the winner's name, city of residence, game won and prize amount to any third party that requests the information. Other jurisdictions allow winners to create trusts to shield their names from the public, or otherwise claim prizes anonymously. Check with your lottery to see if taking a photo of the winner is required and what its rules are on prize claims. Even if you keep your identity secret from the media and the public, you will have to be known to the lottery so officials can confirm you are eligible to play and win, as well as other legal requirements.
Michael Sweeney, executive director of the Massachusetts State Lottery, apologized Thursday afternoon for the mix-up, saying it was the result of a “human error” but added that the lottery’s internal systems always had the correct information. He said those internal systems ran a routine report in the morning identifying Chicopee as the correct location, and lottery officials then checked to ensure that it was accurate.
One funny story concerning the Powerball draw came in March, 2005 when 110 players matched all five winning numbers, minus the Powerball (22, 28, 32, 33 and 39). The Powerball lottery officials, who were understandably suspicious, paid out nearly $20 million. It soon came to light that a biscuit company from New York named Wonton Food had printed six numbers to go in their fortune cookies and these numbers really had proved to be lucky, as they were the five Powerball numbers, minus the Powerball! Unfortunately for the 110 players, they were just two off the Powerball number of 42, as the number 40 had been predicted in the fortune cookies.
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.
The winner, who has not yet claimed the prize, has 365 days from the draw date to turn in the ticket at one of nine California Lottery District Office locations. The lucky person has two options for payment: A payment plan for about $543 million (before federal taxes) paid out over 29 years or a lump cash sum of $320.5 million (before federal taxes).
The only way to be sure that what you are buying is “official” is to purchase your tickets from a company that has agents that will purchase in the real world the Powerball tickets online that you have selected. If you are a more trustworthy person and don’t need a scanned copy of your Powerball tickets online then by all means go for an online lottery ticket provider that follows the insurance model.