Mega Millions Hits $400 Million: Read This Before You Buy a Ticket

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Mega Millions lottery ticket forms at a
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$400 million. Four. Hundred. Million. Dollars.

What more do we need to say? That's an absolute boatload of cash, and someone could win it Tuesday in the Mega Millions lottery. Maybe more. Maybe you.

But if it seems to you like there have been more super-gigantic prizes at stake recently, well you're right. And after we explain why, we'll have a lottery-related money tip or several for you.

Last year, the folks who run the lottery noticed something. When the jackpots get really, really huge, it attracts some nice press coverage, and even the occasional players head out to buy tickets. So they decided to goose the size of their jackpots -- by significantly lowering your chances of winning them. In October, Mega Millions made changes to the number of balls that cut the odds of landing the big prize from about 1 in 176 million (similar to rival lottery Powerball) to about 1 in 259 million.

You may have heard this before. Every time a jackpot heads into the neighborhood of half a billion, we update this article, and send it back out into the world. But there's a darn good reason.

DailyFinance exists to help you, our readers, do better with your money, and lottery tickets are a waste of it. The odds are so infinitesimally low that even at $400 million, it's not worth playing. And many of the "lucky" winners aren't so lucky: Plenty of them eventually end up broke -- worse off than they were before their windfall.

It wouldn't happen like that for you, of course. But you've come this far, so please: Before you go out and splurge on a few tickets -- or a few dozen -- glance through this quick rundown on lotteries and lottery winners. It may help you feel a lot better about not giving in to temptation.

• It's Not the Jackpot You Think It Is: If you win the prize, you won't actually see the amount you expect. First, Uncle Sam levies heavy taxes on income that high, so a handsome chunk of your winnings will go to the government. Ironically, a majority of people -- even among the ones who say that the rich should be taxed more -- feel that those lucky souls who win the lottery shouldn't have to pay as much in taxes as people who make their money in more conventional ways. Second, most winners chose the cash prize option instead of the annuity. If a single winner took the lump sum option Tuesday, he or she would only cash a $224 million check -- before taxes.

• It's a Bad Deal for the Biggest Players: The thought of winning millions is attractive to everyone, but especially attractive to lower classes, who spend up to 9 percent of their income on lottery tickets. With personal debt and unemployment rates at painful levels, who can blame people for being hopeful? But the statistics show that the lottery is a sucker bet. Saddest of all, though the odds are vastly better that you'll get struck by lighting or die from flesh-eating bacteria than win a big lottery payout, 21 percent of American adults agreed with this entirely false statement: "Winning the lottery represents the most practical way [for me] to accumulate several hundred thousand dollars."

• Really Want to Win? Here's an Almost Guaranteed Way to a $50,000 Prize: A Powerball ticket costs $2. Mega Millions still costs a buck. Let's say you're a regular player, who buys five Powerball tickets or 10 Mega Millions tickets a week. That's $520 a year. Over the course of 30 years, that's $15,600. Our friends over at InvestingAnswers.com did the math on what you'd end up with if you invested that money simply. Result: In retirement, when you need it most, not having bought those lottery tickets will likely "win" you more than $50,000! Congratulations!

• A Useful Analogy: Speaking of retirement, winning the lottery is a lot like retiring: Suddenly, you have all this money and you don't have to work anymore. It's easy to make some impulsive splurges, but remember, the longer your wealth lasts, the longer you benefit from it. And be warned: Major windfalls can attract a large number of new "best friends."

• You Won! Then You Lost!: Most of us believe that if we won the lottery, we'd be set for life. But the sudden gains of a lottery windfall can be fleeting. Consider the sad case of Sharon Tirabassi of Hamilton, Ontario, who won $10 million and had almost none of it left less than a decade later.


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adekuenzler

It was hard for me to believe when i saw a comment on the internet regarding how Dr. Oye help people winning lottery by sending them the winning numbers. This winning numbers are 100% guarantee that you must win the lottery. I give it a try and i won $170,000. My comment looks funny but it the truth, The email is abuyespelltemple@gmail.com and i promise you that it will not be funny when you win and share a testimony with others. This is a secret to win lottery so i advice you do that same.

May 23 2014 at 1:38 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
writesaheeb

Can any of these dum azz mathematicians or accountants tell me this: Has there been anyone that has never bought a lottery ticket ever won the lottery? Show me one instance and I will never purchase a lottery ticket again.

May 20 2014 at 2:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
minkcpa

Of course it is a waste but someone will win so it is worth a shot!! $5 quick pick, no mega play is worth the return!! I'll happily pay the 40% in taxes and take the other 60%

March 18 2014 at 3:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
platinum playa

while it true most people who win the lottery turn out to be fools, they obviously have not read that a fool cnnot handle wealth and that is why most of the populace do not, and will not have it. Even those who do acquire it in a coonventinal manner prove this to be true, (there are exeptions like a few actors; denzel washington, eddie murphy. to name a few) we (you, of ocurse) should learn from their mistakes (unlikely - you must experience wealth for your own fool self) On theotherhand, I would be a perfect example of how to handle wealth. I already have more than I need for the rest of my life, and all that I want in this world, and all that money can buy, i.e. clothes, jewelry, etc you name it. I purposely avoid unnecessary assets that require maintanance which causes people to live for their lifestyles, not living for life. It will all boil to things! If you realize that things will not make you happy, you will automatically acquire the things you need, want and desire as you progress through life.Again, it goes back to the fact that if you have nothing then you are most likely materialistic (although you can still be materialistic if you don't realize you can only wear one pair of shoes, pants, shirt, jacket, etc at a time) It will just take longer to get dressed and out of the house if you have more choices IF you are fashion conscious. (like I am - it takes me 45 mintues to get ready to go the the store - and I wouold spend $4-7,k in a heartbeat to replace things I give away) Very few undestand this concept of material things being something you hang in a closet, park in a garage or take from the refrig to put on the stove. Give me $25M out of a $500M jackpot (for example) and I will turn it into $200M in less than one year on the european market or FX. But that's just me. I am not your ordinary guy, but the exception to the rule. You know why? Cuz' I am one guy no one can fool.

March 18 2014 at 7:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to platinum playa's comment
maceandemma

Everyone is a fool but only fools fail to see it.

March 18 2014 at 2:21 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
KenHoosier11@aol

BUTT< There are WINNERS.

March 18 2014 at 4:33 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to KenHoosier11@aol's comment
ncinkman

Where can I send your donation?

March 18 2014 at 1:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
anteekazoid

They need to ban lotteries but, of course, they won't. It makes too much money for the state. Maybe if there weren't lotteries, people might actually have to deal with the reality that their lives aren't going to change unless they change them. They might show up to vote too.

March 17 2014 at 10:59 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
cincyburb01

I only spend $1 for every Mega-millions drawing, and I will continue to do so. It's fun to click on the link and see what the winning numbers are, even when (as usual) I don't match any of them. Besides, I live my life unlike most everyone else. I'm very thrifty with my money and it can last a long time. And I spend more time unemployed than I do employed anyway (no, I don't collect unemployment, I live off my savings), so winning the lottery would be great for me. I have no family, no loved ones, so I will be able to buy all the dates I want and I would be very happy.

March 17 2014 at 6:38 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to cincyburb01's comment
platinum playa

so do you perfer ho's or bro's for your money?

March 18 2014 at 7:31 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
donbanf

Some lottery winners make the mistake of thinking they can afford everything and the money will never run out. Win the lotto, don't think like that, and you're likely to have a nice stash for the rest of your life.

March 17 2014 at 6:25 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
me817

On January 27, 2014 I was 25,000 days old. Yep, was born on August 17, 1945. That's 600,000 hours and about 32 million minutes old. Playing the lottery is 4.8 times harder than predicting the exact date, hour and minute I will trip on a curb, and you would have needed to predict it 68 years earlier. Good luck, you going to need a bucket full of luck to even beat the odds of three numbers.

March 17 2014 at 3:08 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
merstockgto

If you do not buy a ticket there is no chance to throw your money away

March 17 2014 at 1:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply