6 Secrets You Might Not Know About Being a Jackpot Winner


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What happens if you hit the Powerball or Mega Millions?

Congrats to the first Mega Millions jackpot winner of 2024. And it’s a big one to boot!

After the March 26, 2024 drawing, a lucky New Jerseyan is taking home the 5th biggest Mega Millions prize in history — a tidy sum of $1.13 BILLION. The ticket was sold at ShopRite Liquor in New Jersey’s Neptune Township.

Winning millions of dollars (or billions in this case) is certainly a life-changing experience that not many people get to experience. Although, we can all dream!

So what happens if you win the jackpot? Here are some secrets you might not know about the process if you are one of the lucky ones who win a top Powerball or Mega Million prize.

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1. You’ll claim your lottery prize in the state where you purchased the ticket

While you can buy a Powerball or Mega Millions ticket in any participating state, you will claim your prize in the state where the winning ticket was purchased. Picked up your ticket while vacationing in Florida? You’ll need to head back down South to claim your prize. And while some states will allow you to claim lottery prizes by mail for certain prize levels, the jackpot is not typically one of them! In most cases, you’ll be asked to head to lottery headquarters to claim your enormous windfall. Check your state lottery website for all the specifics.

(RelatedHow Powerball Works)

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2. There can be more than 1 jackpot winner!

Can lightning strike twice? If multiple tickets end up having the winning numbers for the same jackpot drawing, the prize is divided equally among the ticket holders. This means that if you have the winning numbers, you might end up with a smaller share of the jackpot if others also have the same combination. For Mega Millions, this last happened in December 2023 when two winning tickets were sold at the same Los Angeles gas station. Two winning tickets meant splitting the $394 million prize.

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3. Jackpot winners often seek financial advice before claiming.

Suddenly coming into a large sum of money requires careful financial planning. Many winners may not have experience managing such wealth and may need to hire financial advisors and accountants to help them make smart decisions. If you’re in a state that allows for anonymous lottery winners, you may want to look into your options there as well. Jackpot winners often get their ducks in a row first before heading to lottery headquarters.

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4. There’s a time limit for claiming the jackpot. So don’t wait too long!

Tickets for Powerball and Mega Millions expire after a certain period, usually between 90 days to one year, depending on the state it was purchased in. If a winning ticket goes unclaimed past its expiration date, the prize money is forfeited and redistributed back to participating states.

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5. You’ll need to decide how you want to be paid.

Winners of Powerball and Mega Millions jackpots have the choice between receiving their prize as a lump-sum cash payment or as an annuity paid out over several years. Each option has its own advantages and tax implications.

(RelatedHere Are the Luckiest Mega Millions Numbers in 2024)

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6. Are lottery prizes taxed? Short answer: yes.

Uncle Sam treats lottery winnings just like your ordinary income, and your state and city/town may also do so.  For tax-withholding information, check with your state lottery website — these details can vary! There are a handful of states that either don’t have income tax or that don’t have state taxes for lottery prizes.

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Tip: Don’t forget secondary prizes!

While the focus is often on the jackpot, both Powerball and Mega Millions offer significant secondary prizes for matching fewer numbers. These prizes can still be substantial and life-changing for winners, even if they don’t hit the jackpot.

 Powerball prizes range from $4 to $1M (and the jackpot of course). Likewise, you can win a Mega Millions prize with one of nine different number combinations, so check your tickets carefully. 

If you don’t know, know you know! These often unexpected aspects add layers of complexity and intrigue to the already exhilarating experience of winning a Powerball or Mega Millions jackpot.  

This article originally appeared on Jackpocket.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org

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