Guide to US Lotteries

The US is often known as the territory that goes above and beyond the norm—and this is definitely true of country’s lotteries as well. With 44 states offering a variety of lottery games for players to choose from, the US is a hub of opportunity. It is also the perfect place to investigate if you are itching to purchase a ticket and hoping to be the next lucky millionaire due to the plethora of options available. In this guide to US lotteries, we will look at the biggest and most popular lotteries available to see how they compete with each other and which ones are best to play.

Powerball Lottery LogoUS Powerball

Powerball is the only logical starting point for a guide like this. Easily one of the most popular lotteries in the world, Powerball as we know it today was launched in April 1992 and quickly changed what the world thought lotteries could be. The game uses a double-matrix system and requires players to pick five balls from a number pool ranging from 1 to 69 as well as one “Powerball” from a pool ranging from 1 to 26.

To win, you will need to beat odds of 1 in 292,201,338 and match all six numbers. While these odds may seem ridiculous, the jackpots that they represent are even more ridiculous. The largest jackpot in the game’s history was won in 2016 and was worth a staggering $1.586 billion. It is because of jackpots like this that the game allows you to take winnings as a cash lump sum or as a 30-year annuity.

Mega Millions Lottery LogoMega Millions

Launched in 2002, Mega Millions is almost as famous as the Powerball and can be found on just as many online lottery websites. The game is easy to play and requires you to select five numbers between 1 and 70 and a single extra number between 1 and 25 called the “Mega Ball”. Matching these six numbers will make you a jackpot winner and eligible to claim a prize either as a cash lump sum or as a 30-year annuity.

Sadly, the odds of actually achieving this are not great and come in at 1 in 302,575,350—even tougher than the Powerball odds. However, with jackpots of $1.537 billion, there is no cause for complaint. This great double-matrix game can be played every Tuesday and Friday for only $2 per line.

New York Lotto Logo MediumNew York Lotto

As one of the more commonly known state lotteries, the New York Lotto is undoubtedly a lottery to look out for. With jackpots reaching up to $72.5 million, the game is worth trying your luck on each Wednesday and Saturday. To do this, you will need to select six numbers that come from a number pool ranging from 1 to 59. Because the game uses a single matrix, you also won’t have to worry about choosing any other numbers.

Matching these six numbers with the winning numbers will mean that you have beaten odds of 1 in 22,528,737 to become a winner. These are clearly much better odds than the two mega lotteries mentioned above but are still not the best. However, the fact that tickets can be purchased for just $1 each and that winnings can be claimed as a lump sum or annuity does make up for it.

Florida Lotto Logo MediumFlorida Lotto

Florida may be known for many things—some great and others not so great—but one of the greatest things is definitely Florida Lotto. Launched in 1988, this lottery game has become a favourite in and out of the state. The game uses a single-matrix format which requires you to select six numbers out of a possible number pool ranging from 1 to 53. A bonus is that tickets only cost $1 each.

The largest jackpot ever offered by the lottery was won in 2000 and was for the amount of $81.6 million. Amounts like this can be taken as a cash lump sum—which will cost you almost half of the advertised amount—or in annuity payments over 30 years. Draws are held each Wednesday and Saturday, and you will also need to beat odds of 1 in 22,957,480 to win these great jackpots.

California SuperLotto LogoCalifornia SuperLotto

One of the most popular lotteries in America is none other than the California SuperLotto Plus, and this is an excellent lottery to play if you are looking for decent jackpots. The game was launched in 1986 and uses a double-matrix format. This means that to play, you will need to select five numbers from a number pool ranging from 1 to 47 and an additional Mega number from a range of 1 to 27.

Matching the six numbers means beating odds of 1 in 41,416,353 but also means standing a chance of claiming jackpots up to $193 million. Wins like this can be taken either as cash lump sums or as annuity payments over 26 years. Draws take place each Wednesday and Saturday and tickets cost just $1 per play.

Wisconsin MegaBucks LogoWisconsin MegaBucks

Not to be outdone by other State Lotteries, Wisconsin launched the MegaBucks lottery in 1992. The game costs $1 and uses a single-matrix formula that needs you to choose six numbers from a number pool ranging from 1 to 49 to play. However, rather than selecting just one group of numbers, you will need to choose two, as the minimum number of lines on a ticket is set at two.

The odds of winning jackpot amounts reaching $22.2 million are 1 in 6,991,908—which rival the odds offered of Powerball when playing in some of the biggest lottery syndicates. Winnings can be taken over a 25-year annuity or in the form of a cash lump sum. Draws are held each week on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

New York Cash4Life LogoNew York Cash4Life Lottery

If you think that previously mentioned jackpots are great, you will be thrilled by the New York Cash4Life jackpot. Launched in 2014, Cash4Life became one of the most popular lotteries available thanks to its jackpot—which awards the winner $1,000 per day for the rest of their life (or a lump sum equivalent of $7 million).

To play, you will need to select five numbers from a range of 1 to 60 and a secondary Cash Ball from a range of 1 to 4. Matching these six numbers will make you a winner and give you the ability to boast of beating the odds of 1 in 21,846,048. Draws are held Mondays and Thursdays and cost $2 to enter.

Overview

To make things simple, we have taken all the above information and condensed it neatly into an easily digestible table so that you can see (at a glance) what each lottery offers and how they compare to one another.

Lottery Name

Jackpot Odds

Biggest Jackpots

Lottery Type

Draw Days

Powerball

1 in 292,201,338

$1.6 billion

Double Matrix (5/69 + 1/26)

Wed/Sat

Mega Millions

1 in 302,575,350

$1.537 billion

Double Matrix (5/70 + 1/25)

Tue/Fri

New York Lotto

1 in 22,528,737

$72.5 million

Single Matrix (6/59)

Wed/Sat

Florida Lotto

1 in 22,957,480

$81.6 million

Single Matrix (6/53)

Wed/Sat

California SuperLotto

1 in 41,416,353

$193 million

Double Matrix (5/47 + 1/27)

Wed/Sat

Wisconsin MegaBucks

1 in 6,991,908

$22.2 million

Single Matrix (6/49)

Wed/Sat

NY Cash4Life

1 in 21,846,048

$1,000/day for life

Double Matrix (5/60 + 1/4)

Mon/Thu

US Lottery Taxes

Taxes are one of the areas that can easily put a damper on the joy that comes with winning a major lottery jackpot. Unfortunately, the US is one of the worst countries when it comes to lottery taxes. Compared to Canadian lotteries, whose prizes are never taxed, only 10 of the 44 states that offer lotteries do not levy taxes on lottery winnings. For the other 34 states, however, taxes are applicable, and they are not kind.

These states mostly levy two different types of tax on lottery winnings—state tax and federal tax. State tax is paid to the state government, while federal tax is sent onto (yup, you guessed it) the federal government. These taxes can be incredibly steep—as high as 37%—so they will take a large chunk out of your winnings. That being said, some states take a much smaller cut—even nothing—than others, so make sure you do your research before you buy your next ticket.

Biggest US Lottery Winners

As you can imagine, the home of some of the biggest lotteries on the planet is also the home of the world’s biggest jackpot winners. Many of these winners have won such outrageous amounts that they will never have to worry about money ever again—provided they don’t blow it all like these people, of course. Below are just some of the biggest winners and the amounts that they managed to scoop up.

Winner

Lottery

Draw Date

Jackpot Win

Anonymous

Mega Millions

October 23, 2018

$1.537 billion

Manuel Franco

Powerball

March 27, 2019

$768 million

Mavis Wanczyk

Powerball

August 23, 2017

$758.7 million

Anonymous

Mega Millions

October 23, 2018

$1.537 billion

Gloria Mackenzie

Powerball

May 18, 2013

$590 million

Anonymous

Mega Millions

July 8, 2016

$536 million

Richard Wahl

Mega Millions

March 30, 2018

$533 million

John and Lisa Robinson

Powerball

January 13, 2016

$529 million (1 of 3 winners of $1.586 billion)

Maureen Smith and David Kaltschmidt

Powerball

January 13, 2016

$529 million (1 of 3 winners of $1.586 billion)

Marvin and Mae Acosta

Powerball

January 13, 2016

$529 million (1 of 3 winners of $1.586 billion)

Anonymous

Powerball

July 30, 2016

$487 million

Shane Missler

Mega Millions

January 5, 2018

$451 million

Jeff Lindsay

Powerball

June 10, 2017

$447.8 million

Pearlie Mae Smith

Powerball

May 7, 2016

$429.6 million

Alcario Castellano*

California SuperLotto

June 23, 2001

$141 million

Anonymous*

Florida Lotto

March 29, 2000

$81.6 million

*While many more other BIG winners won on either Powerball or Mega Millions, we included these two to show you what sorts of jackpots the other lotteries have paid out as well.

Conclusion

We are living in a very exciting time in lottery history, and whether you are living in the US or across the world and prefer playing the lottery online, there is no doubt that America offers a range of fantastic lotteries that rival not only each other but even the best lotteries all around the world. With each of these lotteries offering a unique gaming experience and always trying to lead the way forward, we are confident there will be many more jackpot winners and great lottery experiences coming from the US far into the future.


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