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Mega Millions Lottery Jackpot Eclipses $1 Billion Again

Lottery balls
Lottery balls

Are you ready to be a loser once again? I know I am. Mega Millions, one of the two major multi-state lotteries in the United States, has again seen its jackpot climb above $1 billion. For the next drawing, scheduled for Tuesday night, the estimated jackpot is a brain-numbing $1.1 billion. And you know I’m going to buy a ticket or two, knowing full well I have no chance to win.

Ok, to be fair, the odds of winning the jackpot are 1 in 302,575,350.

The overall chances of winning any prize – the minimum of which is $2 – are 1 in 24, which, while a lot better than 1 in 303 million, is still not particularly good.

I know poker players have historically poked fun at the lottery, and rightfully so. There is no skill involved in playing the lottery and the payout is usually the nut low compared to the odds of winning. And while the lottery revenue does go to good use in many places – here in Georgia, it funds pre-K programs and the HOPE Scholarship – it can also be seen as predatory, as it is state-sponsored gambling that is simple for those who can least afford it to access.

So while I don’t normally play and get why poker players, especially, scoff at the lottery, it’s A BILLION DOLLARS. I’m giving myself permission to spend a couple bucks on a dream. At least for the rest of the day, the fantasies about the new house I would buy with the winnings are fun.

What’s crazy is that as high as the Mega Millions jackpot is, it won’t even be in the top five lottery jackpots in the US history if someone wins tonight. The biggest was Powerball at $2.04 billion, hit on one ticket in California on November 8, 2022.

Two billion-dollar jackpots have been hit this year. On January 13, someone in Maine won $1.35 billion in Mega Millions, while just a couple weeks ago, on July 19, someone in California won $1.08 billion in the Powerball lottery.

The eventual jackpot winner will have the choice of taking the money in one lump sum or receiving an annuity made up of one immediate payment, followed by 29 annual payments. The annual payments grow by 5% each year to “protect winners’ lifestyle and purchasing power in periods of inflation.” In the end, they payments will add up to the listed jackpot.

The lump sum is discounted to take into account the time value of money (in lieu of an economics lesson, a dollar now is worth more than a dollar later). For the estimated $1.1 billion jackpot, someone who takes a single, massive check will receive $550.2 million.