7 burning questions about the Mega Millions lottery answered


<pAll eyes are on the Mega Millions drawing Tuesday night, with a historic jackpot of $1.6 billion.

Interested in Lottery?

Add Lottery as an interest to stay up to date on the latest Lottery news, video, and analysis from ABC News.LotteryAdd Interest<pBut before you start planning whether or not to buy a yacht before a jet, there are a few things to know about the game and your chances of winning.


1. How many number combinations are there?

<pThe chances of winning the jackpot are 1 in 302,575,350, but there might be more than one winning ticket.

<pPeople can have the same ticket numbers. Someone could randomly have the lucky numbers picked for them while a different person could choose the numbers intentionally.


2. Can you increase your chances of winning by buying more tickets? Or joining an office pool?

<pIf you buy one lottery(MORE: Mega Millions Lottery: Benefits and drawbacks of office pools)<p

<pAs for office pools, Seth Elkin, a spokesperson for Maryland Lottery and Gaming, said that they have been very popular.

<p“We do see many groups of co-workers, friends or relatives pooling their money to buy tickets, and that's something fun that allows people to enjoy the drawing with those around them,” Elkin told ABC News.




3. Are there tricks to winning?

<pAccording to the officials, there aren’t.

<p“There are all sorts of fun ways to think about the jackpot, and everyone is always trying to figure out a trick for winning, but there is no trick. There are 302 million possible combinations of the numbers, and it's just a matter of having the one that gets drawn,” Elkin said.

<p4. Is it better to pick your own numbers or have the machine pick for you?

<pIt probably doesn’t matter.

<p“We don't have any statistics on whether more jackpots have been won with quick pick numbers or those that the winners selected themselves. But it really makes no difference. Again, there are 302 million combinations, and it's just a matter of having the right one,” Elkin said.


5. If you win, is it better to take the cash option or the annuity?

<pIt’s impossible to say for sure that one way is “better” than the other, as everyone’s circumstances are different.

<pOne thing is certain: with Tuesday night’s $1.6 billion jackpot, the amount that a winner takes home will be different if they take the immediate cash-out option or if they go for the annuity, when the money is paid out in installments over many years.


(MORE: Here are the states with the most Mega Millions jackpot winners)<p

<pThe cash-out option means that the winner will get an estimated lump sum of $904 million, while the person who opts for the annuity will receive $1.6 billion over the course of 30 years.

<p“A winner who takes the cash option will receive one payment, the applicable automatic federal and state tax deductions would be made, and then the winner would be responsible for reporting the income on their annual tax return,” said Elkin.

<pWith the current $1.6 billion jackpot, the first annuity payment would be $24 million, and the amount of the payments would progressively increase, ultimately culminating with a $99 million payment in 30 years.

<p“Most people though, by in large, take the cash option,” said Carole Bober Gentry, spokesperson for the Maryland Lottery and Mega Millions.


6. What can you win if you don’t win the jackpot?

<pYou can still win other prizes!

<pIf you get the first five numbers of the winning ticket, you win $1 million. And if you opted to spend an extra $1 to get a Megaplier ticket, that quintuples your winnings and you will walk away with $5 million.


(MORE: If you win the Mega Millions $1.6 billion jackpot in some states, you can remain anonymous)<p

<pIf you get the first four numbers and the final number, you win $10,000 which can then be bumped to $50,000 with a Megaplier ticket.

<pAs the amount of matching numbers on a given ticket decreases, the payout decreases to $500, $200, $10, $4 and $2.


7. Which states have had the biggest lottery winners?

<pAccording to data compiled by Mega Millions officials, the top nine Mega Millions jackpots in the U.S. were spread out among 14 tickets, but those tickets only came from eight states: Kansas, Illinois, Maryland, California, Georgia, Indiana, New Jersey, and Florida.


(MORE: Mega Millions lottery: Where does lottery money go in different states?)<p

<pIn four of the nine top jackpots, there were multiple jackpot winners. In the highest jackpot to date, $656 million in 2012, there were three winners from three different states.