The Mega Millions jackpot just hit a record $970 million for Friday’s drawing, the second-largest US lottery pool ever, trailing only the $1.59 billion Powerball prize in 2016.
While the odds of winning are a daunting 1-in-303 million — you’re about 20,000 times more likely to be struck by lightning in your lifetime — it does happen. A group of employees at a Wells Fargo & Co. branch in California won a $543 million Mega Millions jackpot in July.
Winners are offered two options: take the $970 million in payments spread over 30 years or as a lump-sum of $548 million. That’s before taxes, of course.
A single winner in New York City who opts for the $548 million cash jackpot would only bring home about half that much, $276 million, after all taxes are paid, according to calculations by H&R Block Inc. The winner would pay $203 million in federal taxes, $48 million in state taxes and $21 million in city income tax. A California resident would do even worse, bringing home $272 million after taxes, H&R Block said.
To win the jackpot, a player must correctly pick six numbers — five white balls from 1 to 70 and the yellow “mega ball” from 1 to 25.
Mega Millions is offered in 44 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.