A Mega Millions lottery contestant buys his ticket for Friday's $500-million game at a corner newsstand in New York, Thursday, March 29, 2012. Forget setting up a charity or establishing a trust, the winner of the $500 million Mega Millions jackpot could save teachers' jobs or help pay for Medicaid-funded doctor appointments in their home state just by paying taxes.
The Mega Millions lottery jackpot just got bigger: $540 million.
The Georgia Lottery updated the jackpot Thursday for Friday night’s drawing. The jackpot rose to $500 million earlier in the week after there was no winner in Tuesday’s drawing.
If there is a winner Friday, that person will win the largest jackpot in North American history, lottery officials said.
Two payment options are available to the lucky winner: about $20 million a year for 26 years with the annuity option; or a single payment worth approximately $389 million with the cash option.
But if you think you can win the $540 million and claim the prize anonymously, you’re out of luck. A winner’s identity is part of the public record and subject to Georgia’s Open Records Act, according to lottery spokeswoman Tandi Reddick. The lottery is required to disclose the winner’s name, city of residence, game won and the prize amount, Reddick said.
Reddick said the jackpot can be claimed at any lottery district office or at Georgia Lottery's headquarters, 250 Williams St., Suite 3000, in Atlanta.
Reddick said "it's in the best interest" of the winner to go through with the big check presentation to deal with all the media attention at one time. “A lot of winners find it fun and a great enhancement to the winning experience to participate in the big check presentation,” she said. Click here for more tips on how to handle becoming an instant lottery millionaire.
The Mega Millions drawing is Friday at 11 p.m. Eastern, and ticket sales end 15 minutes before the drawing. Tickets are $1 per play. Players can multiply prizes with the Megaplier option for an additional $1 per play. Winning tickets are valid for 180 days after the draw date.
Georgians will have to compete with lottery players in 42 other states and the District of Columbia. The jackpot has rolled 18 times since Marcia Adams of College Park won $72 million in the Jan. 24 jackpot drawing.
The previous record $390 million jackpot was a 2007 Mega Millions prize shared by two winners in Georgia and New Jersey. In January 2011, lottery players in Idaho and Washington state split a $380 million Mega Millions jackpot, and in 2006, a player in Nebraska took home a $365 million Powerball prize.
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