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.
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Rules vary according to the applicable laws and regulations in the jurisdiction where the ticket is sold, and the winner's residence (e.g. if a New Jerseyan wins on a ticket bought near their workplace in Manhattan). Mega Millions winnings are exempt from state income tax in California; while Florida, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington state, and Wyoming do not have an income tax. On the other hand, some residents of New York City and Yonkers, New York pay three levels of income tax, as these cities levy income taxes.
Two machines are used in each Mega Millions drawing. The model used for Mega Millions is the Criterion II, manufactured by Smartplay International of Edgewater Park, New Jersey. The balls are moved around by means of counter-rotating arms which randomly mix the balls. Individually, the five white balls, several seconds apart, drop through a hole in the bottom of the mixing drum.
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.
When a player wins the Lotto America jackpot, the winner may choose to receive the prize in annuity payments or may elect to take a lump-sum payment. A player has 60 days from the date they claim their prize to choose the "cash" option or the "annuity" option. If the player selects the "cash" option, the prize will be a single cash payment equal to the amount available to the lottery for the jackpot prize pool. The "cash" prize is estimated to be approximately one-half of the estimated jackpot, depending on current interest rates. If the player chooses an annuity, it will be paid in 30 payments over 29 years, and the annual payment will be increased by a rate as determined by lottery officials. If the cost to purchase the annuity is less than $250,000, the lottery may elect to pay the prize as "cash."
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!