As MegaMillions, Powerball jackpots reach historic highs, Mississippi lottery leader warns of scams

Published 6:20 am Thursday, January 14, 2021

As the nation two lottery games reach historic highs, the president of the Mississippi Lottery Corporation is warning people not to fall victim to scams.

No jackpot winner was announced in Wednesday night’s $550 million Powerball drawing, pushing the grand prize to a projected $640 million for Saturday night, the eighth largest in U.S. lottery history and fifth largest in the game’s existence.

Powerball officials said seven tickets matched five numbers, including a $2 million winner in Virginia, but no ticket matched all six numbers to win the jackpot. The winning numbers were 4, 19, 23, 25, 49 and Powerball 14.

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The Mega Millions jackpot has swelled to a projected $750 million — the fifth largest in lottery history and the game’s second largest ever — after Tuesday night’s drawing didn’t produce a winner. The next drawing is Friday night.

Mississippi Lottery Corporation President Tom Shaheen said in a news release Wednesday that his office has received reports of a lottery scam in the state. Fake communications about lottery winnings are common, Shaheen said.

“We were informed today of a scam going around where Mississippians have received telephone calls regarding a second chance at winning the Mega Millions jackpot,” Shaheen said. “If you should receive such a call, you should immediately hang up. In addition, if you receive this information by email, text, social media message or any other method of communication, do not respond. This is a scam.”

The news release said that the Mississippi Lottery does not contact winners because the corporation does not know a winner’s identity until that person claims a prize.

For Powerball and other online games, the lottery knows the winning numbers and where the ticket was sold. The winner must keep the ticket and confirm the numbers on it. If nobody comes forward with winning numbers, no one claims the prize.

The news release also said a legitimate lottery never asks winners to pay taxes upfront. All federal and state taxes are paid before the lottery releases money to a winner.