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Mega Millions Cutoff Time: How Late Can You Buy Lottery Tickets Before Friday’s $1 Billion Drawing?

With a little, or a lot, of luck, someone will be crowned the big winner of the Mega Millions lottery and the $1 billion jackpot. As the drawing nears, it’s natural for people to rush to buy tickets, but there is a cutoff time for people taking their shot at becoming wealthy beyond their imagination.

In many states, eligible tickets are sold until 15 minutes before the drawing takes place. The drawing for Mega Millions will occur at 11 p.m. EDT on Friday, so, if you live in an eligible state on the East Coast, you have to purchase your ticket by 10:45 p.m EDT. If you’re in Central Time Zone, that means 9:45 p.m. CDT. The West Coast should have their tickets in hand by 7:45 p.m PDT.

However, there are exceptions to this time limit, so it’s best to check the rules in your own state. For example, in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, the cutoff is 9:50 p.m. EDT on the day of the drawing.

After a series of drawings during which no one hit big, the Mega Millions reached a whopping $1 billion with a cash option of $565 million on Friday. The massive prize is the second-largest pot of cash in United States lottery history.

To take a shot at winning the life-changing prize money, a person over the age of 18 needs to purchase a ticket for two dollars with the option to guess the Megaplier for an extra dollar. Tickets are sold at a variety of establishments, including convenience stores, gas stations and newspaper stands.

There are two ways a person can select their numbers, either by choosing specific numbers or through random selection. If there is a set of lucky numbers the person wants to play, they select five different numbers ranging from one to 70 and one number ranging from one to 25. If the person wants to leave it up to the computer to decide their fate, they can select the Easy Pick/Quick Pick option and have numbers generated for them.

There are nine ways a person can win the Mega Million lottery, ranging from the top prize down to the cost of their ticket:

  • 5 numbers + gold Mega Ball match = Jackpot
  • 5 numbers + no gold Mega Ball match = $1,000,000
  • 4 numbers + gold Mega Ball match = $10,000
  • 4 numbers + no gold Mega Ball match = $500
  • 3 numbers + gold Mega Ball match = $200
  • 3 numbers + no gold Mega Ball match = $10
  • 2 numbers + gold ball match = $10
  • 1 number + gold ball match = $4
  • 0 numbers + gold ball match = $2

Winners have two choices for claiming their prize, either in an immediate payment followed by 29 subsequent payments, or in one lump sum of cash.

While not as high as the Mega Millions prize, also on the line this weekend is the $470 million prize attached to the Power Ball. The drawing for the Power Ball will take place on Saturday evening.

The $1 billion drawing has a cash payout option of more than $500 million.

Powerball Jackpot: How late can you buy a ticket?

The Powerball jackpot has risen to an estimated $750 million, with the next drawing of the multi-state lottery game scheduled for 10:59 p.m. Wednesday.

The drawings are held Wednesdays and Saturdays. In Pennsylvania the cutoff to buy tickets is 9:59 p.m. on drawing days.

If you’re hoping to take your shot at the jackpot, here’s a few things you should know (and a few things you don’t need to know, but we couldn’t resist telling you):

How to play:

Tickets are $2, and players select five numbers from one to 69, as well as one Powerball number from one to 26. Numbers can be selected by each individual player, or given out randomly when you buy a ticket.

Matching all six numbers is what would get you the jackpot prize, but other prizes are also given out for matching at least a few of the numbers.

There is also a Power Play number drawn, which multiplies the non-jackpot prizes. Participating in the Power Play option costs an additional $1 when a ticket is purchased.

Powerball tickets are shown outside of a a liquor store Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017, in Fremont, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) AP

What are my odds of winning?

The odds of winning the jackpot is pretty long. According to the Pennsylvania Lottery, it’s about 1 in 292 million.

You have better odds of:

  • Being struck by lightning (one in 750,000).
  • Being struck by an asteroid or comet (1 in 20,000).
  • Becoming a billionaire without winning the lottery (1 in 785,000).
  • Being elected president (1 in 10 million)

What could you buy if you took the $465 million cash option?

Almost anything, but here’s a few things you could splurge on:

  • A ride around the moon. With a friend. A space tourism company, as of a few years ago, was selling a slingshot ride around the moon aboard a modified Russian Soyuz spacecraft for $150 million per person.
  • The most expensive car in the world. That’s the Koenigsegg CCXR Trevita — the Swedish manufacturer of this beauty made just two. One is owned by boxer Floyd “Money” Mayweather, who made headlines a few years ago by announcing he paid $4.8 million for the car. Maybe he’ll consider an offer?
  • A yacht. The Seven Seas, owned by movie director Steven Spielberg, cost $200 million. So you could afford that boat, but you probably couldn’t afford to run it very long.
  • Lincoln Financial bought the naming rights to the home of the Philadelphia Eagles for $139.6 million for 21 years. You could outbid them.
  • If you wanted to give the money away, try this: $400,000 would pay the tuition for 11,690 people to attend a private college.
  • Or, in the same philanthropic vein, you could build a hospital. Maybe two. The Penn State Children’s Hospital in Hershey cost about $207 million to build.

Start by signing the back of your ticket. Clearly print your name, address and phone number. Take some time to contact a financial advisor for advice.

The jackpot must be claimed in person at Pennsylvania Lottery headquarters in Middletown. You’ll have 60 days to decide whether you want to take the money as an annuity or take the cash option. Here’s what that means.

  • Annuity: If you select this option, you’ll receive your money in 30 annual payments over 29 years, with the payments increasing by 5 percent each year.
  • Cash option: You’ll get a lump sum payment. If the jackpot remains at $750 million, the cash payout would be $465.5 million.

Of course, whichever option you take, you’ll be responsible for paying taxes on your winnings. This also assumes you’re the only winner. If there are multiple winners, the jackpot will be split between you.

Can the winner remain anonymous in Pa.?

In Pennsylvania, certain winner information is considered a public record. The Lottery also publishes online lists of winners of $1,000 or more that include the following:

  • First name, last initial of the winner(s)
  • County of residence
  • Name of game won
  • Date of win
  • Prize amount

Under the state Lottery Law, legal entities (such as trusts) are permitted to file prize claims and receive prize funds. If you want to explore that option, you should contact an attorney.

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Powerball Jackpot: How late can you buy a ticket? The Powerball jackpot has risen to an estimated $750 million, with the next drawing of the multi-state lottery game scheduled for 10:59 p.m. ]]>