Sorry in advance if you've purchased a Mega Millions ticket for tonight's drawing.

I just purchased a ticket and I've thought it over and I'm pretty sure it's a winning ticket. Of course, formalities like actually doing the drawing, etc. need to take place, but I've got a feeling.

How Much Money is in the Mega Millions Jackpot for the Drawing on Friday, July 22nd?

The current Mega Millions jackpot amount is the 5th largest in Mega Millions history and the 9th largest overall in U.S. history. How much is that? $660,000,000. Yep. That's over half a billion dollars. Of course, don't go spending it all just yet.

First, as I said, I think I'll be winning it. However, just for giggles, let's take a look at how much money a winning ticket provides. You can choose to be paid out annually in payments for 29 years and you'd get the entire amount. Of course, you'll have to live that long and you'd want to be sure you were not like the majority of lottery winners and wind up going broke before you even get to year 2 or 3.

Is it Better to get One Lump Sum Payout of Big Lottery Prizes like Mega Millions?

Most people do choose this option of one, albeit reduced, payment in a lump sum upfront. I'm not sure if most people do this because they want as much money in their pocket as quickly as possible or if they realize that with fiscal responsibility and a shrewd team of financial advisors, one could do much better for themselves by investing the money over those 29 years and not have the government be the one earning the interest.

Keep in mind, that the lump sum from the $660 million dollar jackpot will be a paltry $376.9 million dollars. You'd have to establish that you could live on such a small amount. Then, get ready for Uncle Sam to dip his hand in before you even smell the cash. Tax liability of 24% is skimmed off the top before you get your payout. If I'm doing the math correctly, that's another $90,456,000 out the window. Now you're down to only $286,444,000. Now, the tax responsibility isn't done, it's just put off until you file your return next year. Unless you and your financial team get creative by making charitable donations or set up a foundation to help preserve the Tazmanian Wombat habitat or something, you'll owe the remainder of the top line tax rate of 37% or in this case another 13% = $48,997,000. This is where it gets sad. Only $237,447,000 left for you.

Unnecessary Disclaimer (because, duh!)

I didn't even get into the state tax liability that some folks might encounter because we here in Washington State don't have an income tax (yet). I don't know if the calculations above are accurate and of course, I'm not a financial wizard. These are simply my own calculations that I ran, as soon as I purchased my aforementioned winning ticket today. Again, my apologies. Good luck next time.

If you or someone you love may have a problem with gambling, check out this website for help.gamblersanonymous.org

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