**Why the Mega Millions Jackpot Has Grown to $1.55 billion**
The Mega Millions jackpot has reached an unprecedented $1.55 billion, making it the third-largest jackpot in history. The reason behind this massive prize is the absence of a winner since April 18, resulting in 31 consecutive drawings without a jackpot winner. This nearly four-month-long unlucky streak has led to the accumulation of a substantial prize fund, tantalizingly close to the record of $2.04 billion won in 2022 by a California player.
However, it’s important to note that winning such a large jackpot is no easy feat. The odds of winning the Mega Millions are incredibly slim, at 1 in 302.6 million. Consequently, the jackpot often rolls over for weeks before a winner emerges. The allure of bigger prizes leads to increased ticket sales, thereby generating more revenue for the state services funded by lotteries.
**Why Does it Take So Long for Someone to Win?**
While the current jackpot drought is significant, it does not surpass the longest run in Mega Millions history. The record for the most drawings without a jackpot winner stands at 36, which concluded on January 22, 2021, with a lucky individual claiming a $1.05 billion prize. The Powerball holds the record for the most consecutive drawings, with 41 taking place before someone won the record-breaking $2.04 billion jackpot.
**How Many Number Combinations Are There?**
The Mega Millions game involves five white balls and a separate gold Mega Ball. There are approximately 302.6 million possible number combinations for these balls. The white balls are numbered from 1 to 70, while the Mega Ball ranges from 1 to 25.
To put this figure into perspective, let’s consider the recent drawing. All the tickets sold for that particular drawing accounted for only around 35% of the possible number combinations. This means that approximately 65% of the potential combinations, equating to nearly 200 million options, were not included. As the sales increase before the upcoming drawing, lottery officials expect the coverage of potential combinations to rise to just over 41%.
**Don’t Expect to Put $1.55 billion in the Bank**
Although winning the Mega Millions jackpot promises a significant windfall, it’s essential to manage expectations. The advertised $1.55 billion prize is based on a 30-year annuity payment plan for a sole winner. However, most jackpot winners opt for a lump sum payment, which, in this case, would be an estimated $757.2 million.
Regardless of the payment method chosen, a considerable portion of the winnings will be allocated towards taxes. State lotteries typically withhold 24% for federal taxes, and the total tax bill can be further increased by the top federal income tax rate of 37%. Additionally, winners may also face state taxes on their lottery payouts.
Furthermore, as more people purchase tickets, the chances of multiple winners increase. For instance, the $1.586 billion Powerball jackpot in 2016 was won by three players from California, Florida, and Tennessee. As a result, a winner could potentially receive only a fraction of a substantial jackpot.
**What is the Best Way to Choose My Numbers?**
The majority of players opt for the “easy pick” option, allowing the lottery machine to generate their numbers. In Iowa, over 90% of Mega Millions ticket purchases were made using this method, rather than manually selecting the numbers. However, regardless of whether the machine or the player chooses the numbers, the odds of winning remain the same.
**Where is the Lottery Played?**
Mega Millions is available in 45 states across the United States, including Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands. However, it is important to note that the game is not played in Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Nevada, and Utah.