By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
How some residents around Hall would spend the $1 billion Mega Millions jackpot
07292022 LOTTERY 3.jpg
Casey Sanders makes a purchase of a Mega Millions lottery ticket Thursday, July 28, 2022, at the new Clipper Petroleum store on Thompson Bridge Road in Gainesville. The lottery is over $1-billion. - photo by Scott Rogers

What would you do with $1.1 billion? 

That’s how much money you stand to make if you win the Mega Millions jackpot when numbers are called Friday at 11 p.m.

It’s the third-largest jackpot ever, after the $1.5 billion prizes in 2018 and 2016.

“Trip to Hawaii,” said Jonathan Law, 28, when asked about the first thing he’d do if his six numbers were called. 

“I’ve been wanting to take my mama and the family to Hawaii for a couple of years now,” he said from an Exxon Food Mart on Gillsville Highway. “She’s never flown.” 

07292022 LOTTERY 6.jpg
Signs at the Clipper Petroleum store Thursday, July 28, 2022, advertise the Mega Millions jackpot that now has surpassed $1 billion. - photo by Scott Rogers

The Mega Millions jackpot has grown so large because it’s been three months — 29 consecutive drawings — since a winner has been called. 

A ticket is just $2, but the chances of winning are astronomical — 1 in 302.5 million. It might come as a surprise that those odds never change, even when more people buy tickets. That’s because the six numbers can only be arranged in 302.5 million ways. 

By comparison, your chance of getting struck by lightning is less than one in a million. 

But that doesn’t stop some people from trying their luck. 

“If you don’t buy one, you don’t win it,” said 43-year-old Casey Sanders. “That’s the only chance you have.” 

What would she do with the money? 

“What I didn’t donate, I’d probably buy land and build a house,” she said from a Clipper Petroleum in Gainesville. 

Syed Ahmed, owner of the Gillsville Highway Exxon, said more of his customers are buying a Mega Millions ticket than they have in the past for smaller jackpots. In 2020, he sold a Millionaire Jumbo Bucks worth $5 million

“We’re selling more than usual,” he said. “Everybody’s excited.” 

“New people that have never played the lottery, they’re trying their luck too,” he said. 

Winners have two options for how they want to receive their money. If you want the full $1.1 billion, you’ll have to opt for an annuity, paid annually over 29 years. But nearly everyone chooses the second option: Taking the cash, even though your winnings would be far slimmer, an estimated $648.2 million. 

Whichever option you choose, you’ll have to fork over a lot of your money to Uncle Sam. After federal, state and local taxes, the winner could wind up netting only about a third of the $1.1 billion jackpot. 

For all the people who try to hit the jackpot, there are others who don’t see much point. 

Steve Ryan, 69, said the odds are too slim, and money isn’t that important to him. As a retired social worker, he’s more excited by the idea of using that money to do some good in the world. 

But even him, when pressed, admits that he’d like a nicer car. 

“I’m not a Lamborghini guy, but I might buy a convertible or something.” 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.