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Mega Millions numbers for $444 million jackpot will be drawn tonight

Lady Luck aids $273M lottery winner twice

The Mega Millions jackpot has jumped to a whopping $444 million, the eighth largest in the game's history. If no one wins, the jackpot will keep growing. The numbers will be called Friday at 11 p.m. ET.

There was no winner Tuesday night. Each ticket costs $2 and winners must match all the numbers, including the Mega Ball, to take home the full sum.

The Mega Millions winner has the option to take a one-time lump sum or be paid in annual installments of 10 to 25 years. Currently, the all-cash option for Friday's jackpot is at $281.1 million.

Either way, all payments received are taxed as ordinary income, but most lottery winners are tempted and advised to claim their prize in a one-time lump sum — that could be a mistake. 

Some winners believe that their survivors will get nothing or be forced to deal with estate tax problems if they choose installments. This is false, and survivors may request to cash out some or all of the remaining payments pay any estate taxes due at the death of the winner.

If Mega Millions recipients want to hide their winnings from family members entirely, they may be able to claim that prize anonymously — depending on the state they're in. 

In March, a winner from South Carolina came forward anonymously after several months and took home a record jackpot of $1.5 billion.

Just days later, another Mega Millions winner was announced. This time, an unemployed man from New Jersey claimed his $273 million Mega Millions jackpot and revealed his identity. Mike Weirsky said he couldn't have won on his own.

A week before the drawing, Weirsky bought the ticket at a Quick Check store and forgot them there. Fortunately, a resident discovered them and gave the tickets to the store. Weirsky retrieved the tickets and became a multi-millionaire.

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