Mega Millions Jackpot Now Half a Billion Dollars

Yahoo Contributor Network

Imagine a line of $1 bills laid end to end. $500 million would reach around Earth at the equator just more than six times. A half billion dollars. One person could win the largest prize in lottery history on Friday when six numbers are drawn for the Mega Millions jackpot.

The Associated Press reports the record for the largest Mega Millions jackpot was $390 million. That record win was split by two people in March 2007. Tuesday's drawing was for $363 million and no one held a winning ticket. The last winner was Jan. 24.

Winners have two options with Mega Millions. They can receive an annuity of 26 annual payments. A win of $500 million means an annual payment to the winner of about $19.25 million.

The other payment alternative is cash up front. Mega Millions will pay the winner the cash in the jackpot prize pool for the drawing, a mere $359 million. That will give the winner a line of dollar bills that only reaches four times around Earth.

The ticket costs $1. Six numbers are chosen by the player, five in the range 1 to 56 and the sixth in the range 1 to 46. If all six numbers are matched, the player wins the jackpot. The odds of winning the jackpot are 1 in 175,711,536.

Taxes are the responsibility of the winner. Each state that participates has different rules and regulations. Many players are partners in ticket purchases. The various states have rules determining how prizes are awarded to groups. Lottery tickets, as the Mega Millions site states, are bearer instruments so the presumption is the person presenting the ticket is the legal owner.

The good news is the jackpot might go higher as the drawing gets closer. The jackpot is based on the ticket purchases from 42 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands. If the recent past is any indication, a lot more tickets are going to be sold before the drawing and that means the jackpot will continue to grow.

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