Lottery winners find themselves in the nation’s highest income tax bracket of 35 percent to 37 percent because the IRS treats lottery winnings as ordinary income.
Before Tuesday, there had been 31 straight draws without a Mega Millions jackpot winner. According to Mega Millions, the most recent grand prize was drawn on April 18 for a $20 million pot.
Before Tuesday’s record win, the largest Mega Millions jackpot was $1.537 billion, won in October 2018.
But this is not the biggest lottery jackpot in recent times. The winning ticket for November’s Powerball jackpot was $2.04 billion.
Billion dollar jackpots are frequent because lotto companies have designed low odds for the games. Experts say.
What are the chances of winning the lottery?
Mega Millions changed the rules of its game in 2017, increasing the starting jackpot from $15 million to $40 million and raising ticket prices from $1 to $2, according to its website. That stretched the odds of winning the top prize from 1 in 258,890,850 to 1 in 302,575,350, The Washington Post reported.
At the time, the largest Mega Millions jackpot was a $656 million prize — split three ways — in 2012. Five of its billion-dollar jackpots have come since the 2017 transition, Mega Millions says.
The Mega Millions jackpot last hit $1 billion in January, when an investment group claimed a $1.348 billion ($723.5 million in cash) prize in Maine.
Tickets are sold in 45 states, DC and the US Virgin Islands. Tickets are $2 each. In most jurisdictions, players can add a Megaplier for an additional $1 to multiply their non-jackpot prizes.
Drawings are held in Atlanta on Tuesdays and Fridays at 11 p.m. ET.