A lottery jackpot is a large sum of money that the winner of a lottery drawing will receive. A winner may choose to take a lump-sum payout or an annuity, which will pay out the winnings over time, usually for 20 or 30 years. Regardless of how they choose to receive their prize, winners are taxed on their winnings.
Despite the fact that it is very difficult to win the lottery, people keep buying tickets. This is especially true of poor people in the bottom quintile of income distribution who tend to spend thousands of dollars a year on lottery tickets. They do so not because they are rich but because they are desperate. They feel that the only way up is to buy a ticket.
Lottery jackpots are growing faster than ever before. This is partly because they get a windfall of free publicity on news sites and broadcasts when they grow to seemingly newsworthy amounts. However, the organizers of Powerball and Mega Millions are also making the games harder to win by changing the odds. The results are that the top prizes are getting larger and more frequently, which draws more people in.
Most lottery winners have to decide whether to take a lump sum or an annuity payment. If they take a lump sum, they will be paying federal taxes of 24 percent and, depending on their tax bracket, that can be more than half their prize. If they choose the annuity option, the payments will be made over a period of years and they can be bequeathed to their heirs.