Someone could win $449 million on July 5, and if you bought a Mega Millions lottery ticket, it might be you. The jackpot is the third-largest in Mega Millions history, but as these things go, the odds of winning aren’t great: There’s a 1-in-259-million chance of taking home the jackpot, according to the New York Lottery, and even if you have that kind of luck, you won’t actually have $449 million to spend.
The cash option (taking your winnings in a lump sum) is $313 million, and then there are those pesky little things called taxes — those will take a chunk out of the winnings, too. The federal withholding is 25% (now we’re down to $235 million), and state taxes vary.
But let’s entertain the dream, for a moment. Let’s say you live in New York, which has one of the highest state tax rates on lottery winnings (8.82%). If you opt for a cash payout, you’d wind up with roughly $207 million (or less, if your city requires you pay extra taxes). Still, $207 million? Not too shabby. You could do some ridiculously nice stuff with that. No need to think about it, though. We’ve done that for you. (Given that we’re daydreaming over here, we’ve done so without taking into account federal estate and gift tax laws.)
1. Help Thousands of Americans Become Debt-Free
A typical American household has $67,900 of debt, driven mostly by mortgages, according to a 2015 report from the Pew Charitable Trusts. With the $207 million you’ve just won, you could pay off the median household debt 3,048 times — that’s more than 3,000 people who would be debt free because of you and you’d still have more than $40,000 left for yourself. Aren’t you just the nicest person?
2. Tackle a Small City’s Credit Card Debt
You could be a little more specific, if you like. Credit card debt is a pretty common financial issue: The median household credit card debt is $3,800, according to that same Pew report. You’ve got enough cash to wipe out credit card debt for nearly 54,474 households, meaning you could pretty much pick a medium-sized suburb and pay off the credit card debt of everyone living there. Credit card debt can take years to pay off — you can see just how long it can take using our free credit card payoff calculator — so a windfall, even a seemingly small one, can be a game-changer for people in debt.
3. Give the Best-Ever Graduation Gift
Student loans are the debt of the moment, though, so it would be very in vogue of you to pay attention to this particular problem. Discharging education debt in bankruptcy doesn’t happen very often, so people who can’t afford their payments can end up destroying their credit. (You can see how your student loans and other accounts affect your credit by getting two free credit scores every 30 days on Credit.com.)
Student loan borrowers in the class of 2016 graduated with about $37,172 of debt, according to an analysis by higher education expert Mark Kantrowitz. With your $207 million, you could pay off the student loan debt of about 5,568 new grads.
Of course, deciding who gets these slices of your jackpot might be a little tricky. Perhaps you could try a lottery system.
More Money Saving Reads:
- The Credit.com Debt Management Learning Center
- How to Pay Off Credit Card Debt
- 5 Tips for Consolidating Credit Card Debt