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5 things to know as Powerball, Mega Millions jackpots surge to a combined $1.52 billion

(NEXSTAR) — Without winners in either weekend drawing, the Powerball and Mega Millions jackpots have grown again, making them now worth a combined total of $1.52 billion.

Nobody matched the winning numbers in Friday’s Mega Millions drawing, pushing that jackpot to an estimated $875 million. At its current size, the jackpot ranks as the sixth-largest in game history.

Without a jackpot winner in Saturday night’s drawing, the Powerball grand prize is now estimated at $645 million. That’s the 12th-largest in Powerball history.

With all of this money at stake, you may be tempted to buy a ticket, or two, or maybe three. Here are five things to know before playing Powerball or Mega Millions.

What are my odds of winning the jackpots?

If you’ve played the lottery before, you know your odds of hitting the big payout are slim.

You have a 1 in 24 chance of winning any payout, ranging from $2 to the jackpot, in Mega Millions. Your chances of winning the Mega Millions jackpot are roughly 1 in 302.6 million. Your odds are slightly better when it comes to Powerball, where you have a 1 in 24.87 chance at any prize, ranging from $4 to the jackpot. Your chances of actually hitting the jackpot are about 1 in 292.2 million.

Powerball: Can you increase your winning odds?

There are some methods that lottery players swear by to increase their odds at the Mega Millions and Powerball jackpots, though. Still, you have a better chance of being attacked by a grizzly bear in Yellowstone National Park (roughly 1 in 2.7 million for all park visitors) or an alligator in Florida (about 1 in 3.1 million) than winning either.

How much of my winnings would go to taxes?

While the odds may be stacked against you, someone will, inevitably, win. That doesn’t mean they’ll get the full advertised payout (or payouts, if they win both available jackpots).

In both Mega Millions and Powerball, jackpot winners have two payout options to select from: the annuitized prize (the advertised $875 million and $645 million, respectively) or the cash payout ($413.5 million or $307.3 million, respectively). Regardless of the payout they select, jackpot winners see a large chunk of their funds withheld for taxes.

These are the best, worst states to win the lottery in

Though some states do not have a state lottery tax withholding, they all must withhold 24% in federal tax on prizes as large as the current jackpots. With additional taxes, you’ll see roughly 37% of your prize money withheld, should you win.

At best, according to an analysis of the current Mega Millions jackpot by USA Mega, a grand prize winner will get about $552.5 million with the annuitized payout (30 annual payments that gradually increase) or $260.5 million in cash. In states with lottery taxes, the actual payout would range from about $457.1 million in annuitized payments or $215.5 million in cash (in New York) to $530.6 million annuitized or $250.2 million in cash (in Arizona, where the state tax is 2.5%).

USA Mega also offers an analysis of the Powerball jackpot.

Those payouts, considered estimates, could change if the jackpots grow or shrink, and if there are multiple jackpot-winning tickets.

Can I remain anonymous if I win Mega Millions or Powerball?

If you’re lucky enough to win either jackpot, even if you aren’t the sole winner, experts recommend moving quickly to assemble a team that includes an attorney, a tax advisor, and a financial advisor. They also encourage protecting your ticket and keeping your victory a secret for as long as possible.

Not sure how to play Mega Millions? Here’s what you need to know

That may be easier in some states than others — only a select few let winners of such large jackpots remain anonymous.

When are the next Powerball, Mega Millions drawings?

The next Powerball drawing will be held at 10:59 p.m. ET on Monday, March 18.

Why have there been so many massive Powerball, Mega Millions jackpots recently?

Mega Millions players will have to wait until 11 p.m. ET on Tuesday, March 19 to find out if they’ve won.

What else should I know about Powerball and Mega Millions?

Tickets for both games are $2 each.

Mega Millions tickets are sold in 45 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. In addition to Tuesdays, drawings are held on Fridays at 11 p.m. ET.

Powerball drawings are held every Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday at 10:59 p.m. ET. Tickets are sold in 45 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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