If You Were The Mega Millions Winner...
What would you do with $656 million?
The odds of winning the recent, record-breaking $656 Mega Millions jackpot were about 1 in 176 million. Yet that grim fact didn’t discourage many of us from plopping down our hard-earned cash, for the $1-a-play chances, in our neighborhood 7-Eleven stores.
Unfortunately, only three winning tickets exist and none of them originated from Northern Virginia. Illinois, Kansas and Maryland lay claim to the victors. At this time, no one in Illinois has stepped forward. The ticket holder in Kansas has chosen to remain anonymous. And Maryland has confirmed and validated a winning ticket, and it belongs to a man and two women who pooled $20 per person and bought $60 worth of tickets from three different Baltimore locations, including the 7-Eleven that sold them the winning ticket.
The threesome work together in Maryland public schools—an elementary school teacher, a special education teacher and an administrative assistant—and all hold additional part-time jobs, too. In spite of their windfall—a lump sum of $34.97 million per person—each has expressed an intent to keep their job with the public school system out of a commitment to their students.
Earlier, Maryland's self-proclaimed winner—a shifty McDonald’s manager named Mirlande Wilson—created quite a media sensation with her false claims of owning the coveted ticket. Wilson alleged to have misplaced it and stated that she had hid it somewhere in her Golden Arches work place. To her dubious assertion, my friend, Karen LaRue, dubbed Wilson, “the new face of pink slime.”
I had never bought a lottery ticket in my life, prior to this record jackpot. But like many others, I confess to getting caught up in the hype and in the process, also uncovering a few interesting facts about Mega Millions:
- It originally was called the Big Game and started in 1976 in six states—Maryland and Virginia being two of them. It became Mega-Millions in 2002 and currently is played in 42 states, along with D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
- Each ticket consists of six numbers. Each of the first five numbers ranges from 1-56. The sixth number is the Megaball number and ranges from 1-46. Numbers can be chosen manually or automatically by the machine.
- Jackpots always start at $12 million and drawings are held every Tuesday and Friday at 11 p.m. EST.
- Before this record jackpot, the next highest was in 2007 that went for $390 million.
- Dependent on what state you live in, the time period for claiming a prize varies and ranges from 180 days to 1 year. Also, dependent on what state you live in, you have the right to remain anonymous.
- Prizes are taxable.
- If a prize goes unclaimed, each state that participates in Mega-Millions receives all of the money back that they contributed.
- The money collected in Mega Millions sales is allocated roughly as follows: About 35 percent goes back to each state to support government services (for instance, about $450 million annually goes to Virginia's public schools); nearly 50 percent goes back to players in the form of prize money and the remaining 15 percent goes to retailers to cover commissions (the store that produced the winning ticket in MD, for example, was paid $100,000) and lottery operating costs.
So, pretend for a moment that the number drawn was actually yours. After posing for the media with your oversized check (with all of the zeros on it), what would you then do with all of the money?
If I won the $656 Mega Millions jackpot, I would___________(Please answer in the comments section below.)