The advertised estimated jackpot represents the total payments that would be paid to jackpot winner(s) should they accept the annuity option. This estimate is based on the funds accumulated in the jackpot pool rolled over from prior drawings, expected sales for the next drawing, and market interest rates for the securities that would be used to fund the annuity. The estimated jackpot usually is 32.5% of the (non-Power Play) revenue of each base ($1) play, submitted by game members to accumulate into a prize pool to fund the jackpot. If the jackpot is not won in a particular drawing, the prize pool carries over to the next drawing, accumulating until there is a jackpot winner. This prize pool is the cash that is paid to a jackpot winner if they choose cash. If the winner chooses the annuity, current market rates are used to calculate the graduated payment schedule and the initial installment is paid. The remaining funds in the prize pool are invested to generate the income required to fund the remaining installments. If there are multiple jackpot winners for a drawing, the jackpot prize pool is divided equally for all such plays.
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.)
On March 13, 2010, New Jersey became the first previous Mega Millions-only member (just before the cross-selling expansion) to produce a jackpot-winning Powerball ticket. It was worth over $211 million in annuity payments; it was sold in Morris Plains. On May 28, 2010, North Carolina became the first previous MUSL member (just before the cross-selling expansion) to produce a jackpot-winning Mega Millions ticket; that jackpot was $12 million (annuity).
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.
Before the advent of government-sponsored lotteries, many illegal lotteries thrived, such as number games. The first modern government-run US lottery was established in Puerto Rico in 1934. This was followed, decades later, by the New Hampshire lottery in 1964. Instant lottery tickets, also known as scratch cards, were introduced in the 1970s and have become a major source of lottery revenue. Individual lotteries often feature three-digit and four-digit games akin to numbers games; a five number game, and a six number game (the latter two often have a jackpot.) Some lotteries also offer at least one game similar to keno, and some offer video lottery terminals. Presently, many US lotteries support public education systems.
*a tip to know whether the website you are looking at actually buys lottery tickets online or follows the insurance model is to check the wording that they use. If you see the words “Play” then you can be confident it is a company that has agents and buys your tickets physically, if you see the words “Bet” you can be sure it is following the insurance model and you are placing a bet on the outcome of a lottery.