Feeling lucky? Mega Millions jackpot now worth $555M

Next drawing is on Tuesday

Mega Millions jackpot is the 8th largest prize in the game's history.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Mega Millions jackpot keeps growing!

It’s been rolling since the April 19 drawing, and Tuesday increased to an estimated $555 million jackpot! Florida players have the chance to become the state’s third Mega Millions jackpot winner by purchasing a $2 ticket at any of the more than 13,000 Lottery retailers across the state.

Jackpot prize winners have the option to receive their winnings in 30 annual installments or as a one-time, lump-sum payment of $316.9 million. Jackpot prizes must be claimed within 60 days of the winning jackpot draw to receive the cash option. Winners have 180 days from the applicable drawing to claim their prize.

The next drawing is set for Tuesday night and is the fifth largest Mega Million jackpot ever.

The biggest winner was in October of 2018 when a ticket sold in South Carolina won over $1.5 billion.

The overall odds of winning a prize in the game are approximately one-in-24.

You have until 10 p.m. Tuesday to make a purchase for the Mega Millions drawing.

Pointers from a past winner

A Florida man named Richard Lustig literally wrote the book on winning the lottery.

He won seven jackpots between 1994 to 2010 and claims it wasn’t luck but a careful set of strategies that improved his odds.

Here’s what he says is the key to winning big:

  • Set a budget of how much you are willing to spend and don’t go over it, ever.
  • Do your research. Check the lottery website for how many people have already won the scratch-off jackpots. That way, you only play the scratch-off games at locations where there are still unclaimed prizes.
  • Never buy fewer than 10 tickets and always buy them from the same roll.

What to do if you win

So what do you do with the money if you hit the jackpot?

Financial advisers would say pay off the taxes so you don’t get hit with the bill later -- and invest it.

But just for fun, we thought we’d get a little more creative.

The lump sum cash prize is nearly $317 million

With that, you could buy Shad Khan’s yacht, the Kismet, and have plenty to spare. He put it on the market a couple of years ago with an asking price of $200 million.

You could also buy a Talbot Lago Teardrop Coupe. It was the most expensive car to sell at auction at this year’s Amelia car show.

And a Gulfstream jet goes for $50 million.

The odds of winning the big jackpot aren’t great -- 1 in 302,575,350 -- but the money you spend on tickets does go somewhere.

News4JAX reporter Joe McLean has more on where all that lotto money goes after the winner gets their share.

Where the money goes

Here’s a look at how lottery money is divided.

  • 66% goes to paying out prizes
  • 25% goes to Florida’s “Educational Enhancement Trust Fund,” which pays for education in K-12 schools, colleges and universities.
  • 5.5% goes to reward retailers who make the lottery sales
  • 1.5% goes to the company that actually prints and sends out the tickets themselves
  • 1% goes to pay for the Florida Lottery office to keep the games going

Of the education funding, in 2020, more than $38 million went to institutions in Duval County. St. Johns got nearly $6 million, Clay County received $3.8 and Nassau got about $1.4 million. These shouldn’t be compared to one another because the money is given out by population, number of institutions and other variables, but still, you can see how much impact the lottery has on local education funding.

The lottery’s website, https://www.flalottery.com, has reports that show how much money went to each endeavor.

About the Authors:

Carianne Luter is a social media producer for News4Jax and has worked at Channel 4 since December 2015. She graduated from the University of North Florida with a communication degree.