Update: The winning numbers are 9-10-25-37-38. The Megaplier is 2x and the Mega Ball is 21.
If Santa didn’t bring you exactly what you wanted this year, the Mega Millions lottery could ride to your rescue. The last drawing of the year on Friday, Dec. 28 has a jackpot prize of $348 million!
But before you rush out to buy your ticket, take a deep breath and consider how unlikely it is that your dreams will come true.
If every man, woman and child in the US bought one ticket, then statistically only one of them would pick the winning numbers. The crazy odds of winning the Mega Millions jackpot are approximately 1 in 303 million.
Then again, we’ve seen “seemingly impossible” odds take a turn, such as Donald Trump winning the presidency.
Where can you buy a ticket?
The Mega Millions runs in 44 US states plus the District of Columbia and the US Virgin Islands. The great gambling state of Nevada isn’t one of them, so partygoers in Las Vegas will have to gamble elsewhere.
The other states where the Mega Millions does not run are:
In almost all states, the identity of lottery winners is made public.
The $1.5 billion prize from the Oct. 23 Mega Millions drawing remains oddly unclaimed. Someone in South Carolina has a $1.5 billion winning lottery ticket stashed away somewhere. Who wouldn’t want to cash that in?
If the prize is not claimed within 180 days, the money is forfeited.
The lesson is there to be learned. If you have–or decide to buy–a lottery ticket for the Mega Millions, don’t forget where you put it and do check your numbers after the drawing.
Take the money or the income?
Choosing the lucky numbers is not the only decision lottery players have to make. When someone does hit the Mega Millions jackpot, they have to choose between taking the money or taking the income.
The rules say the two options are:
“Annuity option: Provides for an initial annual payment followed by 29 annual payments. Each payment is 5 percent larger than the previous one. Cash option: A one-time, lump-sum payment that is equal to all the cash in the Mega Millions jackpot prize pool.”
The headline prize figure of $348 million is the value of the win assuming you take income. If you take the cash option, the prize is $210.2 million.
It’s a nice problem to have, however, history tells the sad tale that many lottery winners aren’t too good at holding on to their winnings. If you aren’t a billionaire hedge fund manager it might be more sensible to take 30 years of income instead of the lump sum.
And remember, the government wants its piece of your good luck. Lottery winnings are treated as taxable income. If you take the lump sum, you will also have to write out a check to the government that will be larger than the national debt of some countries.
That might just take some of the edge off your joy.
Mega Millions’ jackpot winners in 2018
The chances of any individual winning may be small, but lightning does strike. In 2018 the Mega Million has paid out the following jackpot prizes:
- Oct. 23, 2018: $1.537 billion won in South Carolina
- July 24, 2018: $543 million won by an 11-member Santa Clara County (Calif.) office pool
- May 4, 2018: $142 million won by the ABC XYZ Trust with a ticket bought in Moraine, Ohio
- March 30, 2018: $533 million won by Richard Wahl of Vernon, N.J.
- Jan. 5, 2018: $451 million won by Secret 007, LLC, of Port Richey, Fla.
The last drawing of the year takes place on at 11:p.m. EST Friday, Dec. 28. Good luck!