It had to take a whole lot of luck to win Tuesday night's big $355 million Mega Millions jackpot drawing against astronomical odds. Then, there's always the question of whether you should take the annuity or the much lower one-time payment? For the $355 million jackpot, the annuity would pay $13.6 million each year for the next 26 years, so you won't be able to spend all of your winnings at once.
The jackpot grew to such a huge sum because Friday night's drawing failed to produce a winner for the multi-state lottery's top prize, which was estimated to be $290 million. By Tuesday, the jackpot had reached $355 million after 15 consecutive drawings that started Nov. Mega Millions jackpots begin with $12 million and roll over to the next drawing until there is a winner. Other smaller monetary prizes can range from $2 to $250,000, depending on how many numbers are matched. The largest Mega Millions jackpot ever won was $390 million in March 2007, according to the Mega Millions website. Although the odds of winning Mega Millions' top prize are about 1 in 176 million, that hasn't stopped people from dreaming big. Some Mega Millions players told ABC News they were picking numbers from birthdays to home addresses. Mathematicians and lottery officials said that the odds of winning are always the same regardless of how many people play because they always draw from the same set of numbers. Five numbers are picked from a set of balls numbered 1 to 56 and one mega number is drawn from a set of balls numbered 1 to 46. Letting the computer choose your numbers or quick picks does not necessarily increase your chances of winning. Statistically, it doesn't matter and playing the same number time after time doesn't help you win any faster.

Experts also said it's a misconception that your chances are better if you live outside a big city. New York state leads the way with 23 Mega Millions winners and more than half of those winners came from New York City. But some players such as seven-time lottery winner Richard Lustig have come up with their own winning method.
For just $1, you could win the multi-state MEGA MILLIONS® jackpot, which starts at $15 million and increases by at least $5 million with each rollover. Select five numbers from 1 through 75 in the upper play area, or mark the QP (Quick Pick) box and let the terminal randomly pick some or all of your numbers. Select your Mega Ball number from 1 through 15 in the lower play area, or mark the QP (Quick Pick) box for the terminal to randomly select your Mega Ball number.
To play the same numbers for more than one draw, simply tell the retailer how many advance draws you wish to play or select the number of draws in the Advance Play section of your playslip.
Give your completed playslip and payment to the retailer ($1 per play for MEGA MILLIONS, or $2 per play for MEGA MILLIONS with Megaplier). Megaplier is a special feature that allows players to win two to five times their non-jackpot prizes, for just $1 more per play! Each Tuesday and Friday night MEGA MILLIONS® drawings are conducted, in which five out of 75 numbers (white balls) and a Mega Ball number between 1 and 15 (gold ball) will be drawn at random. If you claim a prize on a winning Advance Play ticket before all of the draws on the ticket have occurred, you will be issued a continuation ticket for the remaining draws with the same play numbers as the original ticket. If you picked numbers 15, 47, 4, 25, 8 and mega number 42, out of all the people who lined up in 41 states and the District of Columbia, you did it. Off the top, the lottery withholds 25 percent for federal taxes, and then another 6 or 7 percent for those who have state taxes, which vary by location.
You think, 'What am I going to do in my plane, where am I going to go, how big a house will I live in.' It's a level of fantasy we all engage in, somebody will win that, it could be you," said Emily Oster, an assistant professor of economics at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

It's all one giant computer system, so it doesn't matter," said DeFrancisco of the Georgia Lottery. You will receive a ticket printed with your numbers, drawing date(s), and total cost of the ticket. Drawing results are available on this website, at authorized Florida Lottery retailers and at (850) 921-PLAY (7529).
There are nine ways to win MEGA MILLIONS prizes by matching the winning numbers drawn in the official drawing for the date played. Match just the 5 white balls and win $1,000,000; if your ticket includes the Megaplier you win up to $5 million!
Please Note: The Megaplier box applies to all panels and Quick Picks played on the playslip. The Megaplier number, selected right before the MEGA MILLIONS draw, will determine the multiplier for that draw. Match all five numbers plus the Mega Ball to win the jackpot or match any of the non-jackpot-winning combinations to win other great cash prizes! The jackpot will be paid in 30 graduated annual payments or a one-time cash payment of a reduced amount. Federal income taxes will be withheld from MEGA MILLIONS prizes as required by the Internal Revenue Code at the time payments are made.
Players can add Megaplier® for $1 more per play to increase their non-jackpot winnings by up to five times! If there is no jackpot winner, the money in the jackpot pool rolls over to the next MEGA MILLIONS drawing.

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