Skip to Content

Can you win Mega Millions as a permanent resident?

Can You Win Mega Millions as a Permanent Resident?

As a permanent resident of the United States, you are eligible to play and win the Mega Millions lottery. Mega Millions is available for purchase in 45 states, as well as Washington D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The only requirement to play is that you must be at least 18 years old. There is no citizenship requirement.

What is a Permanent Resident?

A permanent resident is someone who has been granted the privilege of permanently living and working in the United States. Permanent residents have many of the same rights as U.S. citizens, with a few exceptions. For example, permanent residents can:

  • Live permanently in the U.S.
  • Work in the U.S.
  • Own property in the U.S.
  • Attend school in the U.S.
  • Travel freely within and outside the U.S.
  • Apply for U.S. citizenship after meeting requirements

However, permanent residents cannot vote in federal elections or serve on a jury. They are also not eligible for certain government jobs that require U.S. citizenship.

To become a permanent resident, a person must apply through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). There are several pathways to permanent residency, including through family sponsorship, employment, or winning the diversity visa lottery. Once granted, permanent residency status does not expire. A permanent resident simply needs to renew their green card every 10 years.

Requirements for Playing Mega Millions

The requirements for playing Mega Millions are straightforward:

  • You must be at least 18 years old
  • You must purchase a ticket in a participating Mega Millions state

There is no citizenship or residency requirement to purchase a Mega Millions ticket. The lottery is open to anyone in the U.S., whether they are a citizen, permanent resident, or tourist. The lottery is also open to undocumented immigrants living in the U.S.

This makes Mega Millions unique among government-run lotteries globally. Most national lotteries restrict play only to citizens or permanent residents of that country. Mega Millions casts a wider net and allows anyone physically present in the U.S. and of legal age to participate.

Can a Permanent Resident Claim a Mega Millions Prize?

Yes, as a permanent resident, you are absolutely eligible to claim a Mega Millions prize, including the jackpot. There are no restrictions based on your citizenship status.

If you win a prize up to $600, you can simply collect it at any licensed Mega Millions lottery retailer in the state where you purchased your winning ticket. You will need to fill out a claim form and show a valid ID.

For larger prizes between $601 and $250,000, you will need to go to a designated claims center in the state where you purchased your ticket to collect your winnings. You’ll fill out a claim form and show valid ID.

For jackpots over $250,000, including the Mega Millions grand prize, you must contact the lottery commission in the state where you bought your ticket to make a claim. They will guide you through the claims process. You will need to complete a claim form, show valid ID, and your permanent resident card.

Every state has a different procedure, but they all follow the same basic steps. And your citizenship status should not pose any problems. As a permanent resident, the lottery winnings are all yours to keep, even the jackpot!

Taxes on Mega Millions Winnings

As with U.S. citizens and other U.S. persons, permanent residents do have to pay taxes on lottery winnings. This includes federal income tax and likely state income tax as well.

For U.S. tax purposes, gambling winnings are considered ordinary income. That means your winnings will be taxed at your regular federal income tax rate, up to 37% depending on how much you win. State income tax rates also apply, varying from 0% to over 13% depending on where you live and the size of your prize.

Here is a table outlining the federal tax you would owe based on some sample Mega Millions jackpot amounts:

Mega Millions Jackpot Federal Tax (37%)
$100 million $37 million
$200 million $74 million
$500 million $185 million

In addition, if you take the lump sum payment rather than the annuity, you may get pushed into higher federal tax brackets. That means you could end up owing closer to 40% in federal taxes on a massive jackpot. State income taxes apply on top of that.

The good news is that as a permanent resident, you can utilize the same tax reporting tools and advice that U.S. citizens can. You will need to obtain a SSN or ITIN to report your winnings and pay any applicable taxes. An accountant can advise you on legal ways to reduce your tax burden as well.

Claiming Anonymity

Most Mega Millions winners opt to remain anonymous and keep their identities secret from the public. As of 2022, only fifteen U.S. states allowed lottery winners to claim prizes anonymously. These include:

  • Delaware
  • Georgia
  • Kansas
  • Maryland
  • New Jersey
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • South Carolina
  • Texas
  • Virginia
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Mississippi
  • Montana
  • New Mexico

In these states, you can claim your Mega Millions jackpot through a trust or other legal entity to keep your name out of the public eye. The lottery will not reveal your identity.

However, in the majority of Mega Millions states, lottery winners’ identities must be made public. This is required by state sunshine laws governing publicly-run lotteries. The laws are meant to add transparency to the lottery system.

As a permanent resident, you will be subject to the same rules on winner anonymity as U.S. citizens in the state where you purchased your ticket and claimed your prize. Your residency status does not exempt you from public disclosure.

Some states allow you to form a trust first and have the trust claim the prize in its name. This adds a slight buffer between you and the publicity. But your local laws may still require your name to be divulged through public records.

Consult a lawyer to understand your options before claiming a jackpot. With proper planning, you may be able to retain some privacy even in states that mandate publicity.

Leaving the U.S. After a Big Win

Can you claim a Mega Millions jackpot and then immediately move overseas? This is a common question for permanent residents who may be considering a return to their home country.

The quick answer is yes, you can leave the U.S. at any time after winning the lottery. There are no laws prohibiting lottery winners from moving abroad or traveling internationally.

However, there are a few important factors to consider:

  • Taxes – You will still owe U.S. tax on the winnings even after moving away. You must file a return and pay these taxes or face penalties.
  • Prize payments – If you took the annuity rather than the lump sum, your annual prize checks will need to be deposited into a U.S. bank account. Work with your bank on overseas access.
  • Estate planning – Get your will, trusts, etc. in order before moving. U.S. estate laws still apply to lottery winnings.
  • Relinquishing residency – Be very careful about spending over 6 months per year outside the U.S., or you could lose your permanent resident status.

Consult a tax professional and immigration lawyer to understand all the implications before leaving the country as a Mega Millions winner. With proper planning, you can claim your prize then move overseas while retaining your permanent resident status.

The Odds of Winning

The odds of winning the Mega Millions jackpot are 1 in 302,575,350. This means you have a 0.00000033% chance of matching all 5 numbers plus the Mega Ball number in a given draw. Here is a breakdown of the odds for other prize tiers:

Prize Level Odds of Winning
Match 5 numbers + Mega Ball 1 in 302,575,350
Match 5 numbers 1 in 12,607,306
Match 4 numbers + Mega Ball 1 in 931,001
Match 4 numbers 1 in 38,792
Match 3 numbers + Mega Ball 1 in 14,547
Match 3 numbers 1 in 606
Match 2 numbers + Mega Ball 1 in 733
Match 1 number + Mega Ball 1 in 89
Match 0 numbers + Mega Ball 1 in 37

As you can see, your overall odds of winning any prize are about 1 in 24. But your chances of hitting the jackpot are extremely small at over 302 million to 1. That’s why the Mega Millions jackpot often grows to staggering amounts of $500 million or more before someone finally gets lucky.

Despite the overwhelmingly high odds, thousands of people still win smaller prizes on a regular basis. Mega Millions distributes millions of dollars in prizes for matching just a few numbers. And of course, no matter how improbable, someone eventually takes home the jackpot. As the old saying goes, you can’t win if you don’t play!

Notable Mega Millions Jackpot Wins by Immigrants

While no one publically tracks Mega Millions winners by immigration status, some big jackpots have been claimed by foreign-born individuals over the years:

  • A $267 million annuity prize in Georgia was claimed in 2019 by a man who immigrated from Guatemala.
  • A $324 million jackpot in New York was claimed in 2018 by a retired immigrant from Ukraine.
  • A $536 million jackpot in Indiana was claimed in 2016 by a woman who came to the U.S. from Vietnam decades earlier.
  • A $330 million prize in New York was claimed in 2009 by a Dominican immigrant who had recently become a U.S. citizen.

These winners are powerful examples that the American dream is possible for immigrants through the luck of Mega Millions. Of course, even U.S. citizens beat improbable odds and occasionally walk away with jackpots. But Mega Millions holds a unique appeal for people who have come here in search of a better life.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some common questions about winning Mega Millions as a permanent resident:

Do I have to be a U.S. citizen to play Mega Millions?

No, U.S. citizenship is not required. Mega Millions tickets can be purchased by permanent residents, temporary immigrants, tourists, and undocumented immigrants. Anyone physically located in a participating state and over 18 can play.

Can permanent residents claim lottery prizes anonymously?

It depends on the state. Some states allow anonymous claims, while others require your name to be made public. Check your local lottery laws. With planning, you may be able to retain some anonymity even in states that publicize winners.

If I win, do I have to file taxes as a resident alien?

Yes, as a permanent resident, you must report U.S. lottery winnings to the IRS and applicable state revenue agencies as a resident alien for tax purposes. You will pay tax at the same rates as a U.S. citizen on your prize money.

Can I travel or move overseas after winning the jackpot as a permanent resident?

Yes, you can travel and even relocate after a lottery win. However, make sure you claim your prize and pay all required taxes first. You will also need to maintain a U.S. bank account for any prize installment payments. Don’t stay out of the country for over 6 months per year or risk abandoning permanent residency.

Do my odds of winning improve if I buy more tickets?

Yes, your odds do improve slightly with each ticket purchased. However, your odds are still infinitesimally small unless you plan to buy millions of tickets. Focus instead on having fun and dreaming big rather than trying to rig the odds.

Has a tourist ever won Mega Millions?

While anyone physically in the U.S. can play and claim a prize, there are no confirmed reports of a tourist winning Mega Millions or Powerball. The odds are incredibly low. Tourists would essentially have to get extremely lucky on their first-ever ticket purchase while visiting.


In summary, permanent residents absolutely can play and win Mega Millions jackpots and other prize tiers. There is no U.S. citizenship requirement to claim lottery prizes. As a permanent resident, you simply need to be physically located in a participating Mega Millions state and meet the age requirement of 18+.

If you win a small prize, collecting your winnings is straightforward. Larger prizes involve completing claims forms and providing a valid permanent resident ID. Jackpots are subject to U.S. tax withholding, but you can utilize the same tax planning strategies as citizens. While your chances of winning are infinitesimally small, dozens of immigrants have beaten the odds and won life-changing jackpots over the years. For a small investment, Mega Millions offers permanent residents the chance to strike it rich and make their American dreams a reality!