TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — It’s easy to picture the rush of winning a $1 million prize from the Florida Lottery, but it’s less exciting to learn that not all million-dollar prizes are created equal.
Take Douglas Brewer for example. He claimed a $1 million prize from the “$1,000,000 a Year for Life Spectacular” game and opted for the one-time, lump-sum payment of $640,000.
But Fahmin Ali, who also claimed a $1 million prize, walked away with a one-time, lump-sum payment of $820,000 — That means Ali made $180,000 more.
Why did one prize pay more?
A representative for the Florida Lottery told WFLA.com it often has to do with the federal government’s interest rate.
In short, the Florida Lottery gives the winner the amount of money that would be worth $1M if they invested it into a 20-year Treasury bond. But these rates change every day. That means one winning ticket may be worth more or less depending on the day it’s claimed.
Simply put, a higher yield requires less money to earn $1M, while a lower yield requires more.
Some games, on the other hand, have a predetermined Cash Option, meaning lottery players know what the cash prize option will be before even playing the game.
Regardless of prize size, a 24% federal withholding tax is always applied to winning greater than $5,000.
So, if you want to get the most bang for your buck, keep a close eye on the 20-year yield — or just enjoy the prize you get regardless.