Lotto America is a multi-state lottery game in the United States with jackpots starting at $2 million. Players choose 5 main numbers from 1 to 52 and 1 “Star Ball” from 1 to 10. To win the jackpot, players must match all 5 main numbers and the Star Ball. Lesser prizes are available for matching some or none of the numbers. Lotto America drawings are held every Wednesday and Saturday evening. The odds of winning the jackpot are 1 in 25,989,600. Let’s take a closer look at the prize payouts for Lotto America and the factors that determine the size of the jackpot.
The Lotto America jackpot starts at $2 million and continues to grow until there is a winner. The jackpot cash value is the amount a winner would receive if they take the lump sum payment option. The annuity value is the amount paid out to a winner who chooses to receive their prize in annual installments over 29 years.
For example, if the advertised jackpot is $20 million annuity value, the estimated cash value might be around $10 million. A winner who takes the lump sum would get the $10 million cash value, while a winner who takes the annuity would receive about $690,000 per year over 29 years before taxes.
Jackpot winners have 60 days after the drawing date to choose between the annuity or cash value option. Most jackpot winners take the cash, which is less than half of the advertised annuity amount. State and federal taxes also apply to either choice, reducing the amount the winner takes home.
Match 5 Main Numbers
Matching 5 main numbers without the Star Ball wins $1 million. This prize can be taken as an annuity paid out over 29 years or as a one-time cash payment, which is typically around half the annuity amount. State and federal taxes apply.
The overall odds of winning this $1 million prize are 1 in 1,813,027.
Match 4 Main Numbers and the Star Ball
Matching 4 main numbers and just the Star Ball wins $50,000. This prize can be taken as an annuity or cash value. Again, the cash value is roughly half the annuity amount advertised.
The odds of winning this prize are 1 in 739,688 across all players.
Match 4 Main Numbers
Matching 4 main numbers without the Star Ball has a set prize of $5,000. This is paid as a one-time cash amount and is not available as an annuity. State and federal taxes apply to reduce the amount paid.
The chances of matching 4 main numbers are 1 in 13,781.
Match 3 Main Numbers and the Star Ball
If a player matches 3 main numbers and the Star Ball, they win $200. This prize is paid as a lump sum cash amount.
The odds of winning $200 by matching 3 main numbers and the Star Ball are 1 in 1,471.
Match 3 Main Numbers
Matching 3 main numbers without the Star Ball has a set prize of $20. This $20 prize is paid in cash to winners.
The odds of winning $20 by matching 3 main numbers are 1 in 103.8.
Match 2 Main Numbers and the Star Ball
Players who match 2 main numbers and the Star Ball win a free $6 ticket for the next Lotto America drawing. The ticket can be used to play the same numbers again or choose a new selection.
The odds of matching 2 main numbers and the Star Ball are 1 in 241.
Match 1 Main Number and the Star Ball
Matching 1 main number and just the Star Ball wins a free $4 ticket that can be used to play the next drawing.
The odds of matching 1 main number and the Star Ball are 1 in 42.7.
Match 0 Main Numbers and the Star Ball
Even if a player fails to match any main numbers, matching only the Star Ball still wins a free $2 ticket that can be used to play again.
The odds of matching none of the main numbers but hitting the Star Ball are 1 in 10.8.
Factors that Impact Jackpot Size
Several factors impact how fast the Lotto America jackpot grows and how large it ultimately gets:
Higher ticket sales mean more money goes into the jackpot fund. Large jackpots tend to spur increased ticket sales, resulting in even faster growth.
Number of Winners
If there are multiple jackpot winners for a particular drawing, the prize is split evenly among them. More winners mean smaller shares of the total.
Odds of Winning
The odds of winning Lotto America are very high at 1 in 25 million. This makes it likely for the jackpot to continue rolling over and increasing from week to week.
Random number selection means there is no predictability for what numbers will be drawn. Rare combinations are no more likely than common combinations. This adds to the uncertainty around when a jackpot winner will emerge.
Annuity vs Cash Value
Winners who take the cash value reduce the amount paid out by the lottery compared to the annuity prize. This may enable jackpots to grow larger over time.
Number of States Participating
Lotto America is offered in 13 states. More participating states mean more ticket sales go into the shared jackpot.
Lotto America has adjusted aspects of its game over the years, including changing the size of the starting jackpot and modifying the number pool. These changes alter the odds and jackpot amounts.
Tax Implications on Winnings
Lotto America prizes are subject to both federal and state taxes. The exact taxes owed will depend on the winner’s individual circumstances:
Federal tax withholding rates are 24% for winnings over $5,000 and 37% for winnings over $500,000. This is taken out immediately upon payment. Winners must also pay federal taxes when filing returns.
State tax rates vary widely from 0% to over 8% in some states. State taxes apply in addition to federal taxes.
Taxes are assessed annually on each installment payment. The tax rates may change over the course of the 29-year annuity.
Winners pay taxes based on their state of residence, regardless of where the ticket was purchased. Moving to a lower-tax state can reduce state tax burdens.
So for a $20 million jackpot with a $10 million cash value, about $4 million would be withheld upfront for federal taxes if taken as a lump sum. State taxes could claim another few hundred thousand or more, leaving around $5.5 million after taxes. The annuity option would spread taxes out but likely result in a higher cumulative tax bill.
To collect Lotto America prizes, winners must follow these steps:
Sign the Ticket
Sign the winning ticket immediately to establish ownership. Make copies for safekeeping in case the ticket is lost or damaged.
Call or visit the lottery customer service office in the state where the ticket was purchased. They will walk you through the claims process.
Fill Out a Claim Form
Provide personal information and banking details on an official claim form. For jackpots, you will choose cash or annuity.
Complete tax forms such W-2G and 5754 for tax reporting purposes. You will need to provide a Social Security number.
The lottery will verify the validity of the winning ticket and ensure ownership. Validation may take several weeks.
Once validated and processed, the lottery will deposit the funds into your bank account or cut a check. Annuities are paid annually.
Be sure to allow plenty of time, often months, for the claim process. Consulting a tax professional and financial advisor is highly recommended to make the most of your prize money.
For various reasons, some lottery prizes go unclaimed by the original owner. Common causes include lost, stolen, damaged tickets, or a player failing to realize they won.
State laws determine how long players have to claim prizes, often 180 days to 1 year from the drawing date. If no one claims the prize by the deadline, the money is returned to the state to be used for various public purposes. This can include contributing back into the main lottery fund to boost future prizes and jackpots.
Huge jackpots, especially those over $100 million, almost never go unclaimed. But smaller prizes ranging from hundreds to hundreds of thousands of dollars frequently expire before players come forward. Make sure to carefully check your tickets after each drawing. Sign the ticket once verified so it can clearly be identified as the owner. This prevents the heartbreak of having an expired winner.
Impacts of Winning
Winning a large Lotto America jackpot can be life changing in many ways:
A significant portion of the winnings will be lost to taxes, perhaps reducing millions to half or less. Proper planning is essential.
Wisely investing the lump sum can generate ongoing income for life. But reckless investments can lead to the money disappearing.
It’s tempting to make extravagant luxury purchases. But wasting money too fast leads to bankruptcy. Those who live reasonably can make the money last.
Many winners engage in philanthropy and charity work to “give back” and do good. But donations should be within budget.
There is often media interest surrounding large jackpot wins. Some relish the attention, while others find it intrusive. Remaining anonymous is an option where allowed.
Sudden wealth makes some winners targets for theft, fraud, lawsuits, and begging from others. Keeping a low profile and being careful is advised.
Money changes dynamics with friends, family, and romantic partners. While some bonds grow stronger, others deteriorate over jealousy and entitlement.
With prudent financial management and proper precautions, a lottery windfall can indeed transform lives for the better and secure the financial future for generations to come. But discipline is required to make the money last and not ruin lives.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you remain anonymous when winning Lotto America?
Anonymity varies by state. Some require full disclosure, others allow winners to claim via trusts or LLCs to maintain privacy. Consult local lottery officials for your particular jurisdiction’s rules.
What is the biggest Lotto America jackpot ever won?
The record Lotto America jackpot to date is $72.6 million, hit on February 19, 2022. The lucky ticket was sold in Kansas.
What are the odds of winning Lotto America?
The overall odds of winning any prize are 1 in 9.63. The jackpot odds specifically are 1 in 25,989,600.
Can a group win the Lotto America jackpot?
Yes, groups, pools, or syndicates can purchase tickets together. If they win, the prize is split evenly among all group members.
Where does Lotto America money go?
Lottery profits are returned to the 13 participating states to support various government programs and services. These include education, seniors, veterans, infrastructure, and more.
Are Lotto America prizes tax-free?
No, all winnings are subject to state and federal taxes. Jackpots are taxed at the highest rates, with nearly half lost to taxes.
Can you buy Lotto America tickets online?
Yes, authorized lottery sites allow ticket purchases online. Players can also use lottery apps in some states to buy tickets digitally.
Is Lotto America available everywhere in the US?
No, Lotto America is currently offered in 13 states: Delaware, D.C., Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia.
What happens if no one claims the Lotto America jackpot?
If a jackpot goes unclaimed, the money rolls down into lower prize tiers for the next drawing or returns to the state. Jackpots are never redistributed back into future jackpots.
Lotto America offers players across 13 states the chance to win jackpots starting at $2 million, with the prizes growing higher until someone matches all 5 numbers and the Star Ball. Smaller prizes are also available, with a 1 in 9.63 shot at winning any amount. Taxes take a major cut, especially for jackpots, but the winnings can still amount to tens of millions in cash. With responsible management, Lotto America prizes can provide lifechanging fortune and security for those lucky few individuals who beat the long odds and hit the jackpot. Just be sure to sign the ticket and safeguard it until ready to claim the exciting rewards.