What lottery players should know if they win the $521M Mega Millions jackpot

PHOTO: Powerball and Mega Millions lottery tickets, Jan 3, 2018 in San Anselmo, Calif. The Powerball jackpot and Mega Millions jackpots are both over $400 million.Play Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
WATCH Lotto winners share tips as Powerball, Mega Millions reach nearly $1B

One lucky winner could take home one of the largest jackpots in Mega Millions history.

There hasn't been a Mega Millions winner in more than two months, and the jackpot now stands at $521 million.

The lump-sum cash payout? $317 million.

Winning numbers drawn on Friday night were 59-46-28-11-31 and a Megaball of 1.

The last drawing on March 27 was the 23rd straight Mega Millions drawing without a jackpot-winning ticket. However, two tickets sold in Illinois and New Jersey matched the five white balls on Tuesday night. The winners will take home $1 million each.

WHAT TO KNOW
  • The lottery jackpots for Mega Millions and Powerball are at nearly $1B combined.

It's the fourth time in the game's history that the jackpot has surged past half a billion dollars.

The best thing a winner can do is stay anonymous, financial adviser and CPA Kurt Panouses, who helped a Florida couple that won a portion of the largest jackpot ever, said.

"The initial concern of the ticket is probably the most important part of the planning aspect," Panouses told ABC News. "What the individual should do is protect the ticket, keep it safe, put it in a safe place, but do not sign the back of the ticket."

"Whoever signs the back of the ticket is the individual that has to claim the ticket and the proceeds," Panouses explained.

Panouses also suggested making a copy of the ticket and getting a tax professional and an attorney to help manage the funds and offer investment advice.

"The tax rate is the highest rate it's been at. In 2018 it's going to be 2.6 percent lower than in 2017. Again, if you're talking about $300 million, that could be seven to eight million dollars of finances that someone could actually have in their pocket by claiming it in 2018," he said of the payout under the new tax law.

A group of 20 co-workers from the North American Stamping Group who won a $420.9 million Powerball jackpot in 2016 split the winnings.

One of the women from the group has used the money to pay it forward to people in need, including her own family, she told ABC News.

"To see my family in better shape, it's a blessing," Amy O'Neal said.

If there is a winner, he or she could choose an annuity to receive 30 payments over 29 years or take a lump sum.

Experts suggest that players use the full range of numbers available and not limit their chances by playing just numbers such as birthdays because months have no more than 31 days and Powerball numbers go up to 69.

The largest Mega Millions jackpot in history was $656 million. Three winners from Kansas, Illinois and Maryland shared that record prize in March 2012.

The next Mega Millions drawing will take place Friday at 8:59 p.m. ET. The cash payout option is $301 million.

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