Mega Millions fever at the office? Do’s & Don’ts of organizing a lottery pool.

With $810 million up for grabs in tonight's Mega Millions drawing, it is now the fourth-largest lottery jackpot ever. With Mega Millions fever sweeping the country, lottery pools are flooding offices nationwide.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Mega Millions lottery ticket could pay off an estimated $810 million prize — the nation’s fourth-largest jackpot ever — after the game’s next drawing Tuesday night.

With Mega Millions fever sweeping the country, lottery pools are flooding offices nationwide. But before you either chip in or organize an office pool, here are some do’s and don’ts to consider.

First, designate a leader.

Make sure that person is highly organized. This isn’t just about collecting money and buying tickets.

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The organizer should also give everyone copies or photos of pool tickets. That way you can watch it as the numbers are drawn.

Whoever is in charge will also have to email the list of players. This prevents random coworkers from trying to cash in post-victory.

Now to the dont’s:

  • Don’t use cash. If possible, pay your pool leader with an electronic account, this way you have written confirmation of your payment.
  • Also, don’t make verbal promises. A verbal “IOU” probably won’t cut it if the pool wins and you say, “Well, I was going to pay.”
  • And finally, don’t get overwhelmed. It can be a lot to handle but stay calm.

And remember, your chance of winning the grand prize is minuscule, at one in 302.5 million, and even if you somehow beat the odds you are not going to get $810 million.

First, that’s the amount for winners who take the annuity option, paid over 30 annual payments. But winners nearly always opt for cash, which for this drawing would pay out an estimated $470.1 million.

And then there are federal taxes, which will slice 37% off that cash prize, so that would leave less than $300 million, though state taxes could cut into that amount as well, depending on where the winner lives. Still a fortune, but a smaller fortune. That also doesn’t account for the possibility that someone else will match the winning numbers, meaning they would need to divide even those smaller winnings in half or more, depending on the number of lucky players.

Then, you’ll have to divide it among the number of people who entered your group’s pool.

But it could still be enough to say “sayonara” to the office for good. One can dream, right?

You have until 10 p.m. Tuesday to purchase a ticket.

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This Emmy Award-winning television, radio and newspaper journalist has anchored The Morning Show for 18 years.