So What's the Chance No One Wins $1.6B Tonight?

The Mega Millions drawing takes place at 11pm EDT
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 23, 2018 9:04 AM CDT
Biggest Jackpot Ever Isn't Really the Biggest in One Way
A lottery player buys Mega Millions lottery tickets at a news stand in Philadelphia, Monday, Oct. 22, 2018.   (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

It's safe to say some Americans will probably stay up past their bedtimes Tuesday night. The six winning Mega Millions numbers will revealed to the world at 11pm EDT, in what is officially the biggest jackpot in US history—sort of. New York Magazine explains that while the $1.6 billion drawing does top the $1.586 billion Powerball drawing that took place on January 13, 2016, it's smaller than that sum in one way: the lump sum. Blame the Fed. The interest rate for the prize payout is 3.45%; in 2016, it was 2.84%. That means a Mega Millions winner who opts to take the cash pay-out would walk with $904 million, versus $983 million in 2016. Here's everything else you should know:

  • So what's the likelihood no one will win tonight? The AP does the math: The odds of winning are 1 in 302.5 million, which simply means there are 302.5 million potential number combinations. Last Friday, about 59% of those possible combinations were sold; the expectation is that the figure will rise to 75% for Tuesday's drawing, which would mean a 25% chance of no winner.

  • And if there is no winner... The next drawing will take place Friday, but lottery officials haven't yet said what the estimated prize would be. "Could it reach $2 billion?" asks the AP.
  • As for it being the largest in US history... The AP says it's actually the largest ever in the world. There's one footnote: Spain's annual El Gordo lottery does have a bigger total pool, but it's always divided into many smaller prizes.
  • A word of advice for the winner from New York: Resist the desire for instant gratification and go with the annuity (that's annual payments over 30 years), not the lump sum. It'll give "insurance against yourself" and the human tendency to just spend it all. Plus, as this Mega Millions breakdown shows, your post-taxes take after the 30 years will be nearly double the lump-sum amount.
  • What would you do with all that money? USA Today poses that very question. Read the answers ticket buyers gave here.
  • And go ahead and buy a ticket: Or so advises Slate. It breaks down the value of a ticket, and the math is now in your favor.
  • Speaking of math in your favor: Individual states will benefit pretty big, too. This piece at explains why.
(More lottery reading: Check out this piece about a man who rigged the lottery—and was given away by his voice.)

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