The Mega Millions jackpot is $1.2 billion. That’s what people would make of it.

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Friday night’s $1 billion Mega Millions jackpot that had millions of Americans scrambling to buy tickets and dreaming up ridiculously improbable plans wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for a player somewhere in Southern California who he wonders what could have been. A player at the Country Store in the desert town of Baker, Calif., matched the first five numbers Tuesday but failed to match the Mega number that would have won the individual the $830 million jackpot instead of the prize of $2.9 million consolation. according to the California Lottery.

But the closed call has set the stage for Friday’s drawing, one in which players can somehow win even more money. Mega Millions announced Friday that the jackpot total had been revised to about $1.28 billion, making it the second-largest pot in the game’s history. The grand total for the jackpot is $747.2 million, according to Mega Millions.

Anticipation of the billion-dollar jackpot has brought players to 7-Elevens, supermarkets, liquor stores and anywhere else that sells Mega Millions tickets for a chance at glory, although history shows that winning that much money does not always equate to happiness.

As Mega Millions hits $1 billion, winning doesn’t mean a happy ending

While the odds of matching all six numbers are about 1 in 303 million, the question remains: What would you do if you won the $1 billion Mega Millions jackpot? While some joked on social media about how they would bring back the Choco Taco or be able to afford Bruce Springsteen tickets, The Washington Post talked to readers about what they would do if they somehow won the big one.

Hire a lawyer as soon as possible

The excitement that comes with learning about the Mega Millions win might diminish after we realize how much life will change, and maybe not for the better. Family members who didn’t know they existed and friends they haven’t seen in decades will likely want to reacquaint themselves with the person or people who win the $1 billion Mega Millions prize. Robert Pagliarini, president of California-based Pacifica Wealth Advisors who has worked with lottery winners, told The Post this week that one of the first things winners should do is connect with a lawyer and a financial advisor.

Mega Millions or mom’s money, here’s how to handle a windfall

When asked the first thing he would do if he won the money, Post reader Aaron Hutton replied: “Get the best lawyer I can and change all my phone numbers.” Hutton, 50, of Plano, Texas, said he has seen too many documentaries about how lottery winners struggled with sudden wealth, especially when it came to requests from loved ones.

“It’s more of a curse than a blessing, so if you win it, you have to structure the money so you don’t have access to it,” said Hutton, an IT professional. “You’re going to be inundated. The average American is not prepared for this situation and they’re not going to know what to do with family and friends coming up to them and asking for money.”

Someone from this small town won $731 million. Now everyone wants a piece.

It’s rare that one moment can instantly pay off all of someone’s debt (student loans, a mortgage, credit cards), but that’s exactly what could happen if a player defied the odds and won Mega Millions. Players of other lottery games have done this in the past. In 2017, Amanda Dietz played a $5 scratch game for the Michigan Lottery and won a $300,000 prize that helped pay off all of her student loans.

About 1 in 5 Americans have student loans, which totals about 45 million people. More than half of those with federal student loans have $20,000 or less to repay, with about a third of all borrowers owing less than $10,000, The Post reported. Seven percent of people with federal debt owe more than $100,000.

Who Has Student Loan Debt in America?

Gabriela Miankova, 33, told The Post that if she played and won Mega Millions, the first thing she would do would be to pay off her student loans.

“I can’t really afford to take out loans for anything else right now,” said Miankova, who is from the Chicago suburbs but is pursuing her master’s degree in the UK.

Like previous winners, Miankova said she would also pay off the remainder of her parents’ mortgage and all of her brother’s student loans.

Irza Waraich, 18, is in a similar boat, as her Staten Island family has discussed ways to limit their spending to pay for her sister’s college education at Stony Brook University.

“I would pay for their education because I would feel responsible for it,” said Waraich, a freshman at Baruch College in Manhattan.

Winning the lottery and immediately buying a new house go together like peanut butter and jelly. Financial experts and past winners have repeatedly shared how buying a home is by far the most common purchase for someone who has hit the jackpot through the lottery. Pagliarini said most lottery winners are looking to buy homes for themselves or their loved ones.

There have been countless stories of big winners buying bigger houses, like the man who plowed some of his $180 million Mega Millions winnings into a luxury mountain home in Southern California, and “My Lottery HGTV’s Dream Home” has highlighted the purchases of some winners since 2015. .

Miankova, who rents, said it would be her “dream” to buy a house. Mark Glickman, a senior professor of statistics at Harvard University, told The Post this week that he would like to buy a vacation home in La Jolla, Calif., where he just returned from vacation.

While it would also be important for Hutton to think about a home for her family or loved ones, she would be more concerned with making sure the financial future of her three children was secured.

“We should decide where the boundaries are,” Hutton said. “But with these sums, whatever you do will be a drop in the bucket compared to the total amount of money.”

Give to causes important to you

After purchasing the most important items, some winners have used their new wealth on issues or projects that mattered most to them.

In 2011, John Kutey and his wife, Linda, used part of their $28.7 million from the $319 million Mega Millions winning ticket that he bought with co-workers to go toward building a water park in Green Island, New York, in honor of his parents, according to the Albany Times Union. In Canada, Bob Erb advocated legalizing marijuana in the country after winning $25 million in 2012. Crystal Dunn took her minor winnings of more than $146,000 from an online Kentucky Lottery game earlier of this month and gave some away to strangers in Canada. in the form of $100 grocery store gift cards.

In a summer dominated by headlines about gun laws and abortion rights, some Post readers said they would direct their earnings toward the hot topics of the moment.

Although Hana Varsano is not legally allowed to play Mega Millions, the 16-year-old would donate some of her hypothetical winnings to LGBTQ charities in response to some of the laws being passed in the United States, such as the of Parents’ Rights in Florida Education. , popularly known by critics as the “don’t say gay” bill. He said he would also like to allocate funds to abortion resources for women in states with “trigger laws.”

“I would also give money for more reproductive health education so that women are not misinformed,” said Varsano, of Culver City, Calif.

Waraich agreed, noting that causes surrounding guns and abortion, as well as Ukraine and the Middle East, would benefit from any Mega Millions winner.

“There are still a lot of problems,” he said. “Whoever wins the lottery, me or you or whoever, could give it to multiple causes.”

But also get something nice for yourself

With all the practical spending and investments out of the way, the Mega Millions winner or winners will be presented with a seemingly endless list of impulse buying possibilities. Some have been traditional (cars, travel, collectibles), but other examples have ranged from gambling in Atlantic City to starting a women’s professional wrestling organization to funding a crystal meth ring. Not much is available from a menu with decadence and sometimes despair.

Miankova imagines what all that money could do to help her live in Spain and fund a three-month trip around the world. Hutton, an avid racing fan, would look to buy a Porsche and attend the Monaco Grand Prix, the legendary and expensive Formula 1 race. He would also like to start his own racing team.

“Racing is one of those things you can sink a lot of money into,” he said.

Remember to have fun playing Mega Millions

Don’t trust your future to winning Mega Millions because it probably isn’t happening.

Hutton is likely to collect two tickets: one with random numbers, one with his children’s birthday numbers. His biggest win to date is $250 from a scratch-off ticket. “That was huge,” he said.

Even if Miankova were to play, said the buzz around the “what if?” of the Mega Millions jackpot is only temporary.

“I have these big dreams, but winning is very unrealistic,” he said. “That would just be wasting my money.”

Ali Pannoni contributed to this report.

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