All prizes must be claimed in the state where the tickets were purchased. Each state has its own rules about when and how winnings must be claimed; it is your responsibility to come forward before your ticket expires, and through the correct channels. Visit the How to Claim page for more information.
Winning tickets must be checked and validated by the lottery operator in the state where the ticket was bought, or by an agent of the operator, such as a licensed retailer, before prizes can be paid out. If you do win a large lottery prize or jackpot, you will be liable for federal taxation in the US, regardless of whether or you’re a resident or citizen. This is set at a rate depending on your total annual income, plus the size of your winnings. The lottery makes an immediate 25 percent federal withholding on winnings of more than $5,000, and most states levy a local withholding, although there are ten which do not.
Below are the tax withholdings by state, although certain other factors – such as residency – could affect these. For further advice, consult a professional financial advisor.
|U.S Virgin Islands||0%|
Cash vs Annuity
If you win the jackpot, you have the option of receiving your winnings as either a cash lump sum, or an annuity payment.
The annuity option entitles you to the full advertised jackpot amount before tax, paid in 30 instalments over 29 years. The first payment would be made immediately, with each subsequent payment increasing by 5%.
The benefits of annuity payments are that you receive the full jackpot amount — as opposed to a reduced cash value — and you have the security of receiving a steady income for the foreseeable future.
However, you also have the option to receive the jackpot as a one-off cash lump sum, though the value of a lump sum payout is always less than it would be for the annuity option. This is because the cash prize represents the actual funds in the jackpot pool at the time of the draw, where the annuity value is based on the lottery’s expected return from investing the cash sum over 29 years. The annuity sum is guaranteed to the player and they receive the full amount even if the lottery makes investments that do not achieve the expected return.
Many players have chosen the lump sum over annuity payments, despite the lower overall value, because if they invest their winnings correctly, their return on investment could be higher than 5% per year – leading them to be better off in the long term.
If an annuity winner dies before receiving all of their payments, the money transfers to their estate or to a beneficiary designated by them. Different states have different rules on whether the estate receives annual payments or the balance of the award; check with your state lottery for more information.
The Megaplier is an add-on you can opt in to when purchasing a ticket for the standard Mega Millions drawing. It costs an additional $1 per line to play, and can increase non-jackpot amounts to up to five times their starting value.
Just before each drawing, the Megaplier number is randomly selected, applying either a 2x, 3x, 4x, or 5x multiplier for all winners who opted to play. The Megaplier is the same for all players, and is available in all participating states except California.
See the How to Play page for more information about the Megaplier. The table below shows how this add-on can increase the value of prizes:
|Odds of Being Drawn||N/A||1 in 3||1 in 2.5||1 in 5||1 in 15|
5 + Mega Ball
|$1 million||$2 million||$3 million||$4 million||$5 million|
4 + Mega Ball
3 + Mega Ball
2 + Mega Ball
1 + Mega Ball