The $1.337 billion Mega Millions jackpot — the second-largest in the lottery’s history — captivated the nation’s imagination before going to one lucky fellow. The life-changing ticket was purchased at a Speedway in Des Plaines, Illinois.
However, the winner has yet to come forward. At a press conference on Saturday, Illinois Department of the Lottery Director Harold Mays said the winner likely has not realized they won! “I encourage everybody to check your ticket,” Mays told locals.
But when someone does eventually, claim the prize… how much are they really walking away with?
A Billion-Dollar-Plus Prize
The largest-ever jackpot was $1.537 billion; it was awarded to a ticket holder in South Carolina in October of 2018 and marked the single highest payout in lottery history. (A $1.586 billion Powerball jackpot in 2016 was split amongst three winning tickets.) But the recent jackpot is a close second.
Coming in at $1.337 billion, the winner will have two choices: a cash payout of $780.5 million now or annual payments spread over 29 totaling the full amount. Each option results in different tax withholdings.
Should the winner opt for the lump sum, roughly:
- $187.3 million would be withheld in federal taxes
- $38.6 million would be withheld in state taxes
- Grand total: $554.6 million
With annuity, however:
- $320.9 million would be withheld in federal taxes over time
- $66.2 in would be withheld in state taxes over time
- Grand total: $949.9 million
Despite annuity coming out as the more economical option, most winners opt for the up-front cash payout. For now though, the big winner — and what they choose — remains a mystery.