Participating in a Mega Millions lotto pool to win $910 million with your coworkers? An Explanation
It’s impossible not to fantasize about winning the lottery when the jackpot is as large as the $1.08 billion Powerball reward from last week or the $910 million Mega Millions payoff from this week. Even if the odds are stacked against you, it may be tempting to join your office’s lottery pool (the odds of winning the Mega Millions jackpot are 1 in 302.6 million).
Collaborating with coworkers to break the record seems like a good idea at first. In theory, you’re all putting in a buck or two, which increases the number of chances to win. The price per additional drawing is substantially lower than the cost of purchasing the same number of tickets individually.
There may be more downsides than upsides to participating in the office lottery pool.
The obvious one is the lower payoff.
Take this week’s Mega Millions prize as an illustration. Let’s pretend you and nine coworkers have a lottery pool and one of you wins the prize on Friday. The grand prize is currently worth $464.2 million in cash. You’ve collectively decided to take the lump sum payment instead of the annuity option (after all, 30 years is a long time to divide up the money).
USA Mega estimates that after paying taxes (estimated at 37% of your winnings), your pool may take home anywhere from $241.9 million (in New York) to $292.5 million (in California, Florida, or any state without a local lottery tax). A California resident, for instance, would split the total prize money equally among ten people, or around $29.25 million. And that’s assuming you get paid at all.
As of the Mega Millions drawing from last night,
The current Mega Millions jackpot is $910 million.
A number of employees have complained that they were promised payment for their share of an office lottery prize but never received anything. A group of 12 bakery employees from Chicago Heights, Illinois known as “the Dirty Dozen” won $118 million in the lotto in 2012. Everyone was thrilled until 11 others said they should also be included in the pool and given money.
The Courier-Journal reports that after three years in court, the matter has been resolved. Six other individuals shared $13.8 million, while the Dirty Dozen earned $6 million each. In 2005, a comparable lawsuit in California did not go the same way. According to ABC News, four employees who participated in an office pool sued the company, claiming they had agreed to split the profits verbally. The lawsuits were thrown out of court.
So how can you keep from having your just rewards taken away from you? Although it may seem archaic, experts advise putting important agreements on paper.
During an interview with Nexstar’s WDAF in 2018, Brandan Davies of Roth-Davies, LLC advised his client to obtain a written list of the pool’s members. You may still be sued by individuals outside of the group, but at least you’ll have something to stand on if that happens.
To keep track of everyone involved, their donations, the tickets purchased, and the money won, experts advise designating a pool leader. If your group does win, California Lottery Deputy Director of Public Affairs Carolyn Becker told Nexstar that person will also be responsible for submitting the proper documentation. The quantity of required documentation varies with the value of the reward.
The group’s representative may even be required by law in some jurisdictions to disperse funds among the winners. In the state of California, for instance, this is the case if the group size is greater than one hundred or if the prize is less than one million dollars.
It’s also a good idea to set ground rules for the pool, give everyone a copy of the tickets, and prepare a game plan if your team happens to win. Also, it’s crucial to only swim with someone you can fully rely on.
I can’t stress enough how important it is for people to have faith in their fellow group members, understand how group claims work, and have a strategy in place for what to do if they win the big pot. As Becker observed.
Forty-five states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands all offer Mega Millions to their residents. The drawings take place every Tuesday and Friday at 11 p.m. ET, and tickets start at $2.