What would you buy? Mega Millions jackpot jumps past $1B

Mega Millions lottery sales are brisk at Bee-Gee's Mini Market on Bigger Road in Kettering on Thursday July 28, 2022. If there's a winner on Friday, the pre-tax payout will be over $1 billion. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

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Mega Millions lottery sales are brisk at Bee-Gee's Mini Market on Bigger Road in Kettering on Thursday July 28, 2022. If there's a winner on Friday, the pre-tax payout will be over $1 billion. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

After federal, state and local taxes, a cash-option winner would have to settle for a paltry $382 million.

Healthcare, retirement and a cabin in the woods are just some of the ways local Ohioans would spend a $1.1 billion prize if they win Friday’s Mega Millions drawing.

Bee-Gee’s Mini Market in Kettering was busy with Mega Millions purchases Thursday, manager Michael Sliger said.

“It’s very brisk,” Sliger said. “We are the largest lottery agent in the Miami Valley already, and then when the jackpots get big, we’ve got people coming from all over so it gets even busier.”

William Roy, who bought his Mega Millions ticket at Bee-Gee’s, said his winnings would go towards family and friends, and a few charities he supports, including Saint Jude and the Wounded Warrior Project. “People say it’s a waste of time playing it, but my thing is, if you don’t buy a ticket you can’t win. I think it’s an amazing opportunity.”

“Plenty of people can do good things with it,” said Dan Bentley, a Mega Millions player in Kettering. “If I don’t get it, someone else will.”

The Mega Millions lottery jackpot swelled to $1.1 billion this week, as no one has matched the game’s six selected numbers since April 15. The jackpot is the second highest Mega Millions jackpot ever and the third highest jackpot of any lottery game in the nation. After no winners emerged Tuesday night, the lottery has gone 29 consecutive drawings without a big winner.

The new estimated jackpot may rise even more, as people rush to buy tickets before the drawing Friday night. The nation’s largest lottery prize was in 2016, when three winning tickets from California, Florida, and Tennessee split a $1.586 billion Powerball jackpot.

Sharon Law of Springfield said her first order of business would be to help her and her family buy a house.

“I’m renting right now, so I would buy a house, and I love to help the food banks,” she said. “There’s so many people that are just so hungry, and I’ve been there before so I know what it feels like.”

Dubbed one of “the luckiest stores in Ohio” by its patrons, Bee-Gee’s walls are papered with dollar amounts from winning tickets bought there. The store just sold a winning $318,000 ticket on Wednesday.

“It’s brisk, it’s busy, but it’s fun. You see people who have never played before, who don’t typically play, saying ‘for a billion dollars, I’m going to take a $2 chance and give it a shot,’ ” Sliger said.

The odds of winning the jackpot are 1 in 302.5 million.

Winners can choose between payout options. The annuity option would pay the $1.1 billion in $36.67 million amounts annually over 30 years. Historically, most winners opt for the discounted cash option to get the money up front. For Friday night’s drawing, that would amount to an estimated $648.2 million.

However, $648 million won’t be the amount delivered to your bank account upon winning. Lottery winnings are taxed as income in 41 states, including Ohio, so federal, state, and in some cases local governments will be waiting for their share of your earnings.

The Ohio Lottery is required by law to withhold 24% federal and 4% state tax on any prize of $600 or more, according to Marie Kilbane Seckers of the Ohio Lottery Commission. That means the initial payout on a $648.2 million cash option would be about $466.7 million.

But the winner will likely owe even more, come next April, based on their tax bracket. The highest federal tax bracket is 37%, which would set the winner back another $84 million next year, according to usamega.com, a site that tracks and analyzes lottery drawings. Depending on where you live, you could owe 1-3% city income tax, too.

All told, after next April, the most the winner would pocket would be about $382 million. So you’ll probably have to limit yourself to buying one island, instead of two.

Jackpot winners from Ohio will receive a W2-G to file with their taxes, Seckers said.

Mega Millions is played in 45 states as well as Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The game is coordinated by state lotteries.

Staff photographer Bill Lackey contributed to this report

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