$1 billion Mega Millions jackpot has Alabamians running to the border

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The Mega Millions jackpot has exceeded $1 billion for Tuesday’s drawing. (Michael Seale / Hville Blast)

Want to win a billion dollars? Well, the Mega Millions lotto jackpot is now up to $1.2 billion (that’s BILLION with a “B”), and a $2 ticket could be the lucky winner in Tuesday’s drawing.

But since Alabama has no lottery, Alabamians who want to give themselves a shot at these big bucks have to cross state lines in all directions to purchase tickets, which is exactly what folks in Madison County and other North Alabama counties are doing.

Crossing State Lines

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Thousands of Alabama residents travel to the Tennessee/Alabama border every year just to buy lottery tickets. (Michael Seale / Hville Blast)

Five states — Utah, Nevada, Hawaii, Alaska and Alabama — do not have a lottery. Which means that Alabama’s four border states are lottery states, and it also means that Alabamians have to cross state lines to play.

“I probably come up here once a month or so,” said Madison County resident Sarah MacDonald. “And if the pot gets really big like now, I try to get tickets for friends and family.”

MacDonald, who said she drives about 30 minutes to the state line, is not alone. The majority of the cars in the full parking lot Monday afternoon at the Magic Mile store in Fayetteville, TN had Alabama tags.

Glen Bennett, who lives in Morgan County, drove to the Magic Mile store with some friends to get in on the Mega Millions jackpot dream, but said he usually does not make a special trip to the border for lottery tickets.

“If I am in a lottery state and stop at a gas station for whatever reason, I usually buy a (lottery) ticket. But I don’t go up here just to buy them. But man, $1 billion, why not?”

Morgan County resident Glen Bennett

The $1 Billion Jackpot

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After taxes, the Mega Million jackpot is hardly $1 billion. (Michael Seale / Hville Blast)

This Mega Millions jackpot is only the fifth lottery jackpot to ever reach $1 billion. So, if you do win the Mega Millions jackpot, are you really a billionaire? Technically, no.

The $1.2 billion you would win is paid out over 30 years, and after federal taxes are taken out, that comes to about $23 million per year. Which, of course, is still a lot of money. Or, if you choose the lump sum payment option, the jackpot is actually what $1.2 billion would be worth 30 years from now (roughly $600 million) and after taxes would come to about $350 million.

That’s not to say that either option is not life-changing money. It certainly is. And perhaps someone’s life will be changed Tuesday evening. We shall see.

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Michael Seale
Michael Seale
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