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Person in Michigan wins Mega Millions’ $1 billion jackpot, 2nd-largest total ever

The drawing for the $739.6 million cash payout was Friday night.

Mystery lottery winner puts Novi, Michigan, on the map

One lucky person is taking home a $1 billion Mega Millions jackpot.

Early Saturday, lotto officials announced a person in Michigan won the prize, estimated at $1 billion or $739.6 million should the winner choose a lump-sum payment — before taxes.

The winning ticket was sold at a Kroger in Novi, a northern suburb of Detroit — about a 30-minute drive from the city — the state lottery website confirmed. The winning numbers were 4-26-42-50-60 with a Mega Ball number of 24.

The winner’s identity has not been revealed, but, per state lottery rules, they must come forward to claim their winnings.

The winner will have two options to collect the record prize, the lottery said in a statement: “The first is an escalating annuity that offers an initial payment, then annual payments for 29 years. The player also may select a one-time cash payment of about $739 million. If a player selects the cash option, they will receive about $530 million after tax withholdings.”

The Mega Millions jackpot had increased to $1 billion for Friday night’s drawing.

It is the second-largest jackpot in Mega Millions history and the third-largest in U.S. lottery history, Mega Millions lottery officials said. The $1.537 billion won by a person in South Carolina on Oct. 23, 2018 is still the world’s largest lotto prize ever awarded on a single ticket.

This is the 18th Mega Millions jackpot won in Michigan, according to a lottery press release. The last winner in the state shared the prize with a Rhode Island winner on Oct. 13, 2017. Until Friday night’s win, the largest lottery prize ever won by a Michigan player was a $337 million Powerball jackpot. Donald Lawson, of Lapeer, won it on Aug. 15, 2012. On April 22, 2005, Port Huron couple Ralph and Mary Stebbins won $208 million playing Mega Millions — it was the largest Mega Millions prize ever won in the state.

Michigan is one of the original founding members of Mega Millions.

“About 97 cents of every dollar spent on Lottery tickets is returned to the state in the form of contributions to the state School Aid Fund, prizes to players and commissions to vendors and retailers,” the state lottery said in a statement. “In the 2019 fiscal year, the Lottery provided more than $1 billion for Michigan’s public schools, its fifth record contribution in a row. Since it began in 1972, the Lottery has contributed more than $23 billion to support public education in Michigan.”

The Match 5 winners were two people in Florida, one in Maryland, one in Missouri, one in New Jersey, one in New York and two in Pennsylvania. Each will take home $1 million. Also, two people — one in North Carolina and one in Virginia — won the Match 5 + Megaplier. Each will take home $2 million.

One lucky person is taking home the Mega Millions jackpot cash.

Mega Millions’ $970 million jackpot making players ‘euphoric,’ but your odds are . not good

Most people dream of winning the lottery, but making poor choices can turn your life into a nightmare. Buzz60’s Sean Dowling has more. Buzz60

One in 302,575,350. Those are the odds of winning the $970 million prize that is up for grabs in Friday’s Mega Millions drawing.

During months of buildup and the longest stretch in the game’s history without a jackpot winner, millions in smaller prizes were won as the jackpot crept up. Now it’s the third-largest prize in U.S. lottery history, if claimed at its amount now.

“The mood is euphoric. This is what we live for,” Maryland Lottery Director Gordon Medenica told USA TODAY on Thursday.

Adding to the excitement for Medenica: A winning ticket for Wednesday’s Powerball was sold in the small town of Lonaconing, Maryland, at Coney Market. The jackpot reached $731.1 million, making it the fifth-largest U.S. lottery jackpot ever.

But just because there was a winning ticket Wednesday, don’t get your hopes up that you are going to win on Friday, said Ronald L. Wasserstein, executive director of the American Statistical Association.

“People confuse their chances of winning with the chances of someone winning. Sooner or later, someone will win that jackpot. That’s certain. What’s just about nearly as certain is that it won’t be you!” Wasserstein wrote in an email to USA TODAY.

But really, how low are my odds of winning Mega Millions ?

Understanding a 1 in 302,575,350 chance of something is tough, Wasserstein said.

Stand on the corner of a football field and start laying out dollar bills until you’ve placed 302,575,350 of them: That’ll take up about 585 football fields, he said.

What if you had pennies and placed 302,575,350 in stacks as tall as the Empire State Building? It’d be more than 1,000 Empire State Building-tall penny stacks.

“Humans are not naturally equipped to understand such big numbers,” Wasserstein added.

The odds of winning are 1 in 302,575,350 because there are 302,575,350 possible combinations of six numbers when picking five numbers between 1 and 70 and then a sixth, separate number between 1 and 25, he said.

The chances of winning Powerball’s jackpot are a little better: Roughly 1 in 292.2 million, but that’s still a long shot, to say the least.

To feel as if they are increasing their chances, some people turn to lucky numbers, anniversaries or birthdays. Others study past jackpot drawings to notice trends (22, for example, has been drawn 21 times as the Mega Ball in the 337 drawings since Mega Millions last changed its number matrix in 2017, according to lottery tracker USAMega.com.)

But there’s no real advantage there, Wasserstein said.

“Each number in the first five numbers has a 1/70 chance of being drawn. That’s about 1.4%. At any given point, some numbers will be drawn at a slightly higher rate than that, and others lower. Over time, those percentages tend to even out. So one might think the best strategy would be to pick the numbers that had been picked less often. But the math doesn’t support that approach any more than it supports picking the numbers drawn more often,” he explained.

“If people feel they have some lucky numbers, more power to them. It’s another aspect of why playing the game is entertaining,” said Medenica, who added that most people opt for random numbers when buying their tickets.

The only thing someone could do to increase their chances of winning? Buy more tickets. But those are still not great odds.

“If I buy two, my chances are doubled. If I buy 10, my chances are increased tenfold. So, wow, let me buy 100, then at a cost of $200 I have increased my chances by 100 times!” Wasserstein said a player might reason.

“Unfortunately, that just means that I have a 1 in 3,025,753.5 chance of winning. Rounding that to 1 in 3 million is still a very tiny probability, and so you are, realistically, just going to lose $200 (though perhaps you have a small chance a recouping a small portion of that by winning a smaller prize).”

What happens if I do win?

Call a lawyer, and stay quiet. Seriously.

One of the worst things a lottery winner can do is immediately spread the news, Andrew Stoltmann, a securities attorney in Chicago, told USA TODAY in 2016. Lottery winners “become one of most heavily targeted marks in the entire world,” said Stoltmann, who has represented multiple lottery winners in lawsuits over investment scams.

Many financial planners advise lottery jackpot winners to assemble a team of advisers who can help them navigate their financial windfall, guiding their investments, taxes and spending.

Another question many have is should they take their winnings as a lump sum or paid out over 30 years.

If you were to win Friday and take the lump sum, you’d bring home “only” $716,300,000, according to USAMega.com. That’s before federal and state taxes (though some states don’t charge any tax on lottery earnings).

After federal but before any state tax, a potential winner Friday who opted to be paid out at once would get $451,304,928, USAMega.com says. Someone who went for the yearly payments would be paid $20,405,928 for the next 30 years before state taxes.

Both options have pros and cons. Those who opt for the annuity would have a guaranteed income stream for the next 30 years, which largely ensures you never run out of money. But it’s possible taxes increase over the next 30 years, meaning you’ll see less of that money, or you die before it’s all paid out.

Taking the lump sum means you wouldn’t have to worry about tax increases, and you could earn more money over time if you smartly invest the money. But the concern is that lottery winners may not be frugal in where they put their money.

Over the years, a number of winners have suffered from the “curse” of lotteries.

Jack Whittaker, already a millionaire when he won $315 million in West Virginia in 2002, went broke within four years. Abraham Shakespeare, who won $30 million in Florida, was murdered soon after. Ronnie Music Jr. was convicted of investing some of his earnings in a crystal meth ring. And Urooj Khan died of what was later determined to be a cyanide poisoning a day after collecting a lump sum of $1 million.

For protection, some lottery offices allow winners to stay anonymous, but the rules vary by state.

In New Hampshire in 2018, a woman won a battle in court to remain anonymous after winning a $559.7 million Powerball jackpot. State lottery rules required release of winners’ names, but lawyers claimed her good fortune placed her in a small demographic of jackpot winners that “has historically been victimized by the unscrupulous.”

It may seem like the obvious choice to remain anonymous and avoid the infamy, but Medenica said there is value in knowing the winner.

“The counterargument to that is one of public transparency and integrity . to show that real people are winning real money,” he said.

So is it worth it to play the lottery ?

It’s been about 2½ years since Medenica said he has seen this level of excitement around such a big jackpot. In late 2018, the sixth-largest U.S. jackpot and the second-largest were won within days of each other. The largest U.S. jackpot ever was a $1.586 billion Powerball prize won by three tickets on Jan. 13, 2016.

“The fun is back. People are talking about it,” Medenica said. Even if you don’t win the jackpot, there are still plenty of smaller yet still sizable prizes to be had, he added.

And perhaps the main reason people play, according to Medenica: “They’re buying a permission to dream, and that’s the main event.”

Wasserstein, the statistician, added: “I don’t buy lottery tickets. But if I did, I’d probably buy one when the prize is huge, like it is now, because, well, go big or go home.”

Follow USA TODAY’s Ryan Miller on Twitter @RyanW_Miller

Contributing: Hadley Malcolm, Janna Herron and John Bacon, USA TODAY; Taylor M. Riley, The Louisville Courier-Journal; The Associated Press

One in 302,575,350. That's the odds of winning the $970 million prize that is up for grabs during Friday's Mega Millions drawing. ]]>