Let’s say you actually won the $1 billion Mega Millions jackpot. Now what?
Charlotte Observer (NC)
This Friday’s Mega Millions lottery drawing has garnered quite the buzz after no winner claimed the prize from Tuesday night’s drawing, with the nationwide jackpot now at $1.02 billion.It’s an eye-opening amount of money that will undoubtedly change someone’s life forever. The largest jackpot won by a North Carolina resident was a $344 million Powerball jackpot in 2019.
So what is it like to be the one who beats the odds? Van Denton, director of communications at North Carolina Education Lottery, gave The Charlotte Observer a breakdown of what happens if you become a lucky winner.
What are the mechanics of collecting a major prize? When you walk through the door at lottery headquarters, what happens?
Denton: The very first thing after that moment of seeing your win is sign your ticket and secure it in a safe place. You have 180 days to claim your prize. Put together your plan for how you would like your life to change. Get a trusted legal adviser. Get a trusted financial adviser. When you are ready, call lottery headquarters and schedule the day you want to claim your $1 billion. We’ll help you with the planning.
When you arrive, you present your signed ticket. Our staff will verify who you are and that you indeed have the winning ticket. You’ll work out your prize, a $1 billion annuity paid out over 29 years, or (a) cash payment of $602.5 million. You’ll learn about the mandatory tax withholdings, just like those done on your paycheck at work (at the minimum – withholdings of 24 percent federal and 4.99 percent (in) state). You work out the timing of the wire transfer to your bank, celebrate with lottery staff, and share your story of great luck. And then you’re off on a whole new chapter of your life.
When is the lottery winner revealed? Can that person remain anonymous?
Denton: The lottery announces the winner typically the day the prize is claimed. For a $1 billion Mega Millions winner, the announcement could be timed for a media event where the winner shares their story. A new thing for winners of $50 million or more is the option of staying anonymous for 90 days after they claim their prize. If a winner chose that option, then the announcement would be made 90 days after the prize is claimed.
How much money does the store get that sold the winning ticket?
Denton: A store that sells the winning ticket for a Mega Millions jackpot gets a $50,000 incentive payment from the lottery. All of the prize money goes to the winner.
Are there personal challenges to winning the lottery?
Denton: So far, I have had the privilege of working with four of the seven jackpot winners from North Carolina. None have called me back to say they had a bad experience with strangers or neighbors. That certainly is something that you should plan for as you put together your plans for claiming your $1 billion prize. Where do you want to live? Should you get a P.O. Box for your mail? Should you get a new phone number? Should you secure your social media channels and make them more private? The good news is you have at least 180 days to take any steps you need and with $1 billion you have the resources to live as privately as you want.
How long does it take to get your hands on the prize after winning the jackpot?
Denton: About three weeks. Once the claim is made, all of the U.S. lotteries involved with the Mega Millions game put in their share of the jackpot amount. Winners typically get the prize wired to their financial account within three weeks.