Lebanon, ME

$1.35 Billion Lottery Winner From Maine Would Have Been $52 Million Richer if They’d Bought Their Ticket One Mile Away

Toby Hazlewood

Crossing the New Hampshire border would have saved the lucky winner $52m in state income taxes.

Woman with moneyPhoto byShutterstock

Friday 13 January saw the vast Mega Millions jackpot won by a lucky ticket holder who purchased their winning ticket from Hometown Gas & Grill in Lebanon, Maine.

After a three month lull in which no jackpot winners were drawn and the prize fund increased steadily, a ticket bought from the Maine gas station matched the winning numbers (61-30-45-46-43 and Mega Ball of 14) making the unidentified big winner sole recipient of the annuitized sum of $1.35bn!

Friday’s jackpot was the fourth billion dollar jackpot in Mega Millions' history and its second-largest ever, surpassed only by the lottery’s record of $1.537 billion won in South Carolina in 2018.

Who is the lucky winner?

The winner is as yet unidentified. Fred Cotreau, owner of Hometown Gas & Grill, who sold the winning ticket told CNN he hopes it is a local person from the small rural community of Lebanon and generously described the win as being really good news for somebody.

It's not uncommon for would-be players to be lured across states lines to buy tickets from states where the lottery isn't available, particularly when the prize fund reaches record-breaking highs. Interestingly, in this case had the winner bought their ticket just a mile away, from a New Hampshire gas station, they would have found themselves a mighty $52m richer as, unlike Maine, the state of New Hampshire does not impose tax on lottery winnings.

New Hampshire is one of just eight states in the country that does not impose tax on lottery pay outs, the others being California, Florida, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and Wyoming.

Would it change your life?

Lottery jackpot wins are often referred to as life-changing, but often the biggest jackpot winners quickly lose their new-found wealth or find themselves worse-off within months or years. There are many stories of lottery winners who quickly ended up back where they'd started or even further behind, by spending all their money or by falling for scams.

In fact, a study from MIT found that Lottery winners are more likely to declare bankruptcy within three to five years than the average American.

If there's a lesson then, it seems to be that to win the lottery could be a life-changing thing, but winners should be careful about how they manage their money and should be on the lookout for schemes and scams that might rob them of their new-found wealth.

One key potential upside for the winner is that, having bought their ticket in Maine, they have the right to remain anonymous under state law, hopefully reducing the chances of being targeted for such scams.

The unseen benefits of the win

In any other circumstance, the loss of $52m might seem catastrophic, but James Myall, an analyst for the Maine Center for Economic Policy, made the point on Twitter that in his estimation the $52million in tax could have a huge benefit to the state, potentially covering the cost of around two years of free school meals for school students in Maine. Good news for the state and its citizens too then.

Other big winners from Friday’s drawing include 14 tickets that snagged $1 million prizes, according to Mega Millions. Four tickets that matched all five white balls were sold in New York, two in California and one each in Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Texas.

If you're playing the Mega Millions lottery, good luck in the next draw!

Should all states impose taxes on lottery wins, for beneficial state or municipal use? What would you do with a billion dollar win? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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