It’s the biggest jackpot in North American history.
The next Mega Millions lottery winner will break all records, if a single winning ticket is sold for Friday’s estimated $500 million prize.
That kind of payday had lottery fever running high Wednesday in Augusta. Many were buying five or 10 tickets at a time, several store owners said.
News of the big jackpot had customers talking at the Village Deli on Wrightsboro Road, manager Heather Chancey said.
“We had someone buy $150 worth not long ago,” Chancey said. “We’ve selling a lot.”
Chancey said she planned on taking a Mega Millions ticket home at the end of her shift.
Odds to win the big prize are about 1 in 175,000,000 according to the Georgia Lottery Corp., so buying an extra ticket or 10 doesn’t really affect your chance of winning, said Dr. Sankar Sethuraman, a professor with Augusta State University’s mathematics department.
“The chances of winning are so tiny that even if you bought 100 tickets your chances are going to be very, very small,” he said.
Sethuraman said even buying 1,000 tickets will only increase your odds of winning to about one in 175,000.
On each ticket you have about a 40 percent chance of matching at least one winning number and a 60 percent chance of matching none, according to Wolfram Alpha, the online computational knowledge search engine.
In Tuesday’s drawing – when the jackpot was a mere $363 million – no tickets sold in the 44 states and territories that participate in the Mega Millions lottery matched all the winning numbers. There were 47 players across the country who matched five out of six winning numbers, earning them $250,000 each before taxes. More than $33 million tickets have been sold in Georgia since Jan. 27, when the last Mega Millions winning ticket was drawn, lottery officials said.
So how much would you walk away with if you did win the big prize?
There are two jackpot payment options. One is the annuity option, which would equal about $18.3 million a year for the next 26 years. Or, you can go for the cash option, which would mean one payment worth approximately $341 million for a single winner.
The big winner, however, won’t pocket all of that cash. Uncle Sam plans to get a piece of the action, too.
The Georgia Lottery withholds 31 percent for taxes from all prizes more than $5,000, said Tandi Reddick, a lottery spokeswoman. That’s 25 percent for the federal government and 6 percent for the state, she said.
That means any Georgia resident lucky enough to be a single winner this Friday will have to get by on just less than $248 million with the cash option.
With that much on the line, if you managed to buy all 175,711,536 unique number combinations to guarantee your win you would still make a profit. Provided, that is, no one else bought a winning ticket, Sethuraman said.
Of course the difference between having a small chance of winning and no chance is the $1 it takes to buy a ticket.
“Just for fun I might buy for myself and my wife,” Sethuraman said. “It’s my contribution to education.”