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What is the biggest lottery jackpot ever won in the US?

The Mega Millions jackpot has risen to $810 million this week, making it the fourth-largest lottery winnings total in US history.

Te compartimos los resultados de Mega Millions de hoy, 4 de octubre. ¿Quién se llevó los $380 millones de dólares? Aquí los números que cayeron y premios.
Andrew KellyREUTERS

The Mega Millions lottery draw on Tuesday evening is set to be one of the biggest in American history after the jackpot rose to a whopping $810 million. Last Friday’s draw did not result in a winner, meaning that the total rolled over to this week.

The $810 million jackpot would be the fourth-largest lottery prize ever won in the United States if a winner is found in the upcoming draw. We take a look at the biggest jackpots in US history…

Three jackpots of more than $1 billion have been won

While the ‘jackpot’ figure often appears as a single lump sum payment, the reality is that most lotteries offer an annuitized jackpot in which the money is paid in a series of instalments. Both Mega Millions and Powerball jackpots are paid out in 30 annual instalments.

The following is a list of the highest jackpots to have been won in US history, assuming that the winner chose to accept the higher annuitized amount rather than the lower cash alternative.

1.$1.586bnPowerball13 January, 2016
2.$1.537bnMega Millions23 October, 2018
3.$1.05bnMega Millions22 January, 2021
4.$768.4mPowerball27 March, 2019
5.$758.7mPowerball23 August, 2017

How much of a lottery jackpot goes on taxes?

Winning either the Mega Millions or Powerball jackpot is a truly life-changing amount of money, but a fairly substantial proportion of the winnings will go on taxes.

The cash equivalent of this week’s $810 million annuitized jackpot is a $470.1 million lump sum payment. This would immediately be subject to a 24% federal tax withholding, which would bring down the total by around $112.8 million.

The top rate of federal marginal tax is currently 37%, meaning that the recipient will likely face further taxes come filing time. If you were to pay this tax on the full amount then you would lose a further $61.1 million. This would leave the recipient with $296.2 million, little over a third of the $810 million jackpot advertised.

Lotto winners can reduce their tax bill by making charitable contributions. The American Institute of CPAs states that individuals can contribute up to 60% of their adjusted gross income to a public charity and receive a tax deduction for the same amount.


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