The Mega Millions jackpot is $1.28 billion. Here’s what people would do with it.


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Friday night’s $1 billion Mega Millions prize, which has millions of Americans buying tickets and dreaming up ridiculously improbable plans, wouldn’t have happened without a player somewhere in Southern California who wonders what could have been. A player at the Country Store in the desert town of Baker, Calif., matched the first five numbers on Tuesday but was unable to match the Mega number that would have won the individual the 830 million jackpot dollars instead of the $2.9 million consolation prize, according to the California Lottery.

But the close call set the stage for Friday’s draw – a draw in which players can somehow win even more money. Mega Millions announced on Friday that the jackpot total has been revised to approximately $1.28 billion, making it the second largest pot in the history of the game. The lump sum for the jackpot is 747.2 million, according to Mega Millions.

Anticipation of the billion dollar draw has driven players to 7-Elevens, supermarkets, liquor stores and everywhere else selling Mega Millions tickets for a shot at glory, even though history shows that earning so much money is not always synonymous with happiness.

As Mega Millions Hits $1 Billion, Winning Doesn’t Mean a Happy Ending

Although the odds of matching all six numbers are approximately 1 in 303 million, the question remains: what would you do if you won the $1 billion Mega Millions jackpot? While some joked on social media about how they would bring back the Choco Taco or be able to buy Bruce Springsteen tickets, the Washington Post told readers what they would do if they somehow won. or another the jackpot.

Hire a lawyer as soon as possible

The excitement that comes with learning of a Mega Millions win could be sapped after realizing how life will change – and maybe not for the better. Family members they didn’t know existed and friends they haven’t seen in decades will likely want to reconnect with the person or people who win the billion dollar Mega Millions prize. Robert Pagliarini, president of California-based Pacifica Wealth Advisors who has worked with lottery winners, told the Post this week that one of the first things winners should do is contact a lawyer and financial adviser. .

Mega Millions or mom’s money, here’s how to manage a windfall

When asked the first thing he would do if he had to make money, Post reader Aaron Hutton replied, “Get the best lawyer you can and change all my phone numbers.” Hutton, 50, of Plano, Texas, said he’s watched too many documentaries about how lottery winners grapple with sudden wealth, especially when it comes to demands from loved ones.

“It’s more of a curse than a blessing, so if you earn it, you have to structure the money in such a way that you don’t have access to it,” said Hutton, an IT professional. “You are going to be inundated. The average American just isn’t ready for this situation and won’t know what to do with family and friends coming to them asking for money.

Someone in this small town made $731 million. Now everyone wants a piece.

It’s rare that an instant can pay off all of someone’s debt instantly – student loans, mortgage, credit cards – but that’s exactly what could happen if a player were to thwart the unlikely odds and win Mega Millions. Players of other lottery games have done this in the past. In 2017, Amanda Dietz played a $5 scratch game for the Michigan Lottery and won a $300,000 prize that helped her pay off all of her student loans.

About 1 in 5 Americans have student loans, totaling about 45 million people. More than half of those with federal student loans have $20,000 or less to pay, with about a third of all borrowers owing less than $10,000, The Post reported. Seven percent of people with federal debt owe more than $100,000.

Who Has Student Loan Debt in America?

Gabriela Miankova, 33, told the Post that if she were to play and win Mega Millions, paying off her student loans would be the first thing she would do.

“I can’t really afford to take loans for anything else right now,” said Miankova, who is from suburban Chicago but is pursuing her master’s degree in the UK.

Like past winners, Miankova said, she would also pay off the rest of her parents’ mortgage and all of her brother’s student loans.

18-year-old Irza Waraich is in a similar boat, as his Staten Island family has talked about ways to limit spending to pay for his sister’s college education at Stony Brook University.

“I would pay for his education because I would feel responsible for it,” said Waraich, a rising freshman at Baruch College in Manhattan.

Winning the lottery and immediately buying a new home go together like peanut butter and jelly. Financial experts and past winners have repeatedly explained that buying a home is arguably the most common purchase for someone who suddenly got rich from the lottery. Pagliarini said most lottery winners are looking to buy homes for themselves or loved ones.

There have been countless stories of big winners buying bigger homes – like the man who invested some of his $180 million in Mega Millions winnings into a luxury mountain home in Southern California — and HGTV’s “My Lottery Dream Home” highlighted select winners’ purchases since 2015.

Miankova, who is a tenant, said it would be her “dream” to buy a house. Mark Glickman, a professor of statistics at Harvard University, told the Post this week that he would like to buy a vacation home in La Jolla, Calif., where he just returned from vacation.

While it’s also important to Hutton to think about a home for his family or loved ones, he would be more concerned with making sure the financial future of his three children is secure.

“We would have to decide where the limits are,” Hutton said. “But with such large sums, whatever you do will only be a drop in the bucket compared to the total amount of money.”

Donate to causes you care about

After big-ticket items were purchased, some winners used their newfound wealth for issues or projects that mattered most to them.

In 2011, John Kutey and his wife, Linda, used part of his $28.7 million share of the $319 million winning Mega Millions ticket he bought with co-workers to build a water park in Green Island, NY, in honor of their parents, according to the Albany Time Union. In Canada, Bob Erb advocated for the legalization of marijuana in the country after winning $25 million in 2012. Crystal Dunn took her smallest winnings of more than $146,000 from an online game of the lottery of the Kentucky earlier this month and gave away some of it to strangers in the form of $100 grocery gift cards.

In a summer dominated by headlines about gun laws and abortion rights, some Post readers said they would direct their earnings to the burning issues of the moment.

Although Hana Varsano is not allowed to play Mega Millions legally, the 16-year-old would donate a portion of her hypothetical winnings to LGBTQ charities in response to some of the laws passed in the United States, such as the parental rights in Florida education. , popularly known by critics as the “don’t say gay” bill. She said she would also like to fund abortion resources for women in states where “trigger laws” are in place.

“I would also donate money for more reproductive health education so women aren’t misinformed,” said Varsano, of Culver City, Calif.

Waraich agreed, noting that causes surrounding guns and abortion, as well as Ukraine and the Middle East, would benefit from any Mega Millions winner.

“There are still a lot of issues going on,” she said. “Whoever wins the lottery – me or you or whoever – can donate it to many causes.”

But also get something nice for yourself

With all practical expenses and investments out of the way, the Mega Millions winner(s) will be presented with a seemingly endless list of impulse buy opportunities. Some have been traditional — cars, travel, collectibles — but other examples range from gambling crises in Atlantic City to the founding of a women’s professional wrestling organization to funding a crystal meth ring. . There’s not much unavailable on a menu characterized by decadence and sometimes desperation.

Miankova envisions what all that money could do to help her live in Spain and fund a three-month trip around the world. Hutton, a motor racing enthusiast, is reportedly looking to buy a Porsche and attend the Monaco Grand Prix, the legendary and expensive Formula 1 race. He also wants to start his own racing team.

“Running is one of those things you can put a ton of money into,” he said.

Don’t forget to have fun playing Mega Millions

Don’t bet on your future to win Mega Millions, because that probably won’t happen.

Hutton is likely to take two tickets – one with random numbers, one with the numbers of her children’s birthdays. His biggest win to date is $250 on a scratch ticket. “It was huge,” he said.

Even though Miankova was to perform, she said the buzz around the “what if?” of the Mega Millions jackpot is only temporary.

“I have big dreams, but winning is very unrealistic,” she said. “That would just be a waste of my money.”

Ali Pannoni contributed to this report.

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