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Is today’s $1.35 billion Mega Millions jackpot the largest ever?

Millions are hoping that this Friday 13th will be their lucky day with the Mega Millions drawing for the $1.35 billion jackpot. Here are the largest ever…

Largest lottery jackpots ever

The Mega Millions jackpot surged over the $1 billion mark after there was no winner last week, the third time that has happened in the history of this particular lottery. The second drawing since breaking the milestone has millions hoping that this Friday the 13th will go against the grain and be their lucky day and their numbers will be drawn for the $1.35 billion grand prize.

Friday’s prize though is not the largest in the history of the Mega Millions lottery, but the second largest in its history. Nor is it the largest lottery jackpot that has been up for grabs in the United States. That title goes to the Powerball drawing back in November that became the first to top $2 billion.

Five jackpots over $1 billion

So far, there have been four jackpots over the $1 billion mark won in the US, three of those by a single ticketholder. The $2.04 billion Powerball jackpot sold in California and claimed in November was one of those. The last time the Mega Millions grand prize was ten figures was two years ago, which is now the third largest in that particular lottery’s history.

Here’s a look at the largest jackpots that have been won in the United States.

JackpotLotteryDateDate# of winnersLocation
$2.04bnPowerballNov 20221CA
$1.586bnPowerballJan 20163CA, FL, TN
$1.537bnMega MillionsOct 20181SC
$1.05bnMega MillionsJan 20211MI
$768.4mPowerballMar 20191WI
$758.7mPowerballAug 20171MA
$731.1mPowerballJan 20211MD
$699.8mPowerballOct 20211CA
$687.8PowerballOct 20182IA, NY
$656Mega MillionsMar 20123KS, IL, MD

Billion-dollar jackpot number an illusion

While the size of the jackpot is eyepopping, it doesn’t represent a lump sum payment which players can opt for and is generally around half the posted figure. In the case of the $2.04 billion Powerball jackpot, the lump sum didn’t break a billion dollars but came in at a measly $997.6 million.

Instead, the amount announced on billboards and when players purchase a ticket is what a single winner would get over 29 years through a series of 30 annuitized instalments, which is the same for Mega Millions and Powerball.

In both cases, that does not take into account Uncle Sam’s cut and, depending on the state where the winning ticket is purchased, state taxes. That would drop a winner’s take home by an initial 24 percent and then a winner would face a tax bill for the earnings which would easily put them in the top tax bracket.

And that’s not to mention if there are multiple winning tickets which would further reduce the amount that would be paid out.


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