In January 2012, Mega Millions' rival Powerball was altered; among the changes were a price increase of $1 for each play, as a result, a base game costs $2, or $3 with the Power Play option. At the time, there were no plans to change the price of a Mega Millions play, with or without the Megaplier (see below for the 2017 format change that includes the base price for a Mega Millions play to be raised to $2.) The price increase for playing Powerball was a major factor in Louisiana deciding to pursue joining Mega Millions, as that state's lottery joined Mega Millions on November 16, 2011.
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.
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.
The New Jersey Lottery, among others, in early 2009 announced it would seek permission to sell Powerball tickets alongside Mega Millions. In October 2009, an agreement between Mega Millions and MUSL allowed all U.S. lotteries, including New Jersey's, to offer both games. On January 31, 2010, Mega Millions expanded to include the 23 MUSL members; as of that date, 35 jurisdictions were participating in Mega Millions. On the same day, 10 existing Mega Millions-participating lotteries began selling Powerball tickets. Ohio joined Powerball on April 16, 2010. On March 1, 2010, Montana became the first MUSL member to add Mega Millions after the cross-sell expansion. Nebraska became the 37th Mega Millions participating member on March 20, 2010, followed by Oregon as the 38th member on March 28, Arizona as the 39th member on April 18, and Maine as 40th Mega Millions participant on May 9, 2010. Colorado and South Dakota added Mega Millions on May 16, 2010, bringing the total to 42 jurisdictions.
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.
The advertised Jackpot Prize is paid as an annuity of 30 payments over 29 years or, at the election of the winner, in a single lump sum payment of the cash value of the annuity prize (prize subject to State and Federal taxes). If the winner chooses the annuity, the annual payments will be increased each year by a percentage set out in the Lotto America Group Rules. Annuity payments are paid pursuant to Lotto America Group Rules and New Mexico State Law.
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.
Before the agreement, the only places that sold both Mega Millions and Powerball tickets were retailers straddling a border; one retailer on the Sharon, Pennsylvania/Masury, Ohio border sold both Mega Millions (via the Ohio Lottery) and Powerball (Pennsylvania) before the agreement and continued to be the only retailer to sell tickets for both lotteries.
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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.
Powerball is an American lottery game offered by 44 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. It is coordinated by the Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL), a nonprofit organization formed by an agreement with US lotteries. Powerball's minimum advertised jackpot is $40 million (annuity); Powerball's annuity is paid in 30 graduated installments or winners may choose a lump sum payment instead. One lump sum payment will be less than the total of the 30 annual payments because of the time value of money.
Winning the jackpot requires matching all five numbers, plus the Powerball. Players who match five numbers win $1 million; players who match four numbers plus the Powerball win $50,000; players who match four numbers win $100; players who match three numbers plus the Powerball win $100; players who match three numbers win $7; players who match two numbers plus the Powerball win $7; players who match one number plus the Powerball win $4; and players who match only the Powerball win $4.
Power Play, when it began in 2001, was drawn with a special wheel. In 2006 and 2007, MUSL replaced one of the 5× spaces on the Power Play wheel with a 10×. During each month-long promotion, MUSL guaranteed that there would be at least one drawing with a 10× multiplier. The promotion returned in 2008; the ball landed in the 10× space twice. After being absent in 2009, the 10× multiplier returned in May 2010 (after the Power Play drawing was changed to RNG.) The promotion was extended for the only time, as the 10× multiplier was not drawn until June 12. The second prize 5× guarantee continued; the 10× applied to all non-jackpot prizes, as in previous promotions.
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 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.