Tonight’s Mega Millions Lottery Winner Will Be Richer Than These Celebrities

The winner of Friday night’s whopping $1.28 billion Mega Millions lottery–if there is only one winner–will be richer than a number of the nation’s most recognizable celebrities and entertainers, some of whom have worked years or even decades to accumulate their own wealth.

Among those who will be bested by the Mega Millions Millionaire: singer Beyonce (est. net worth $450 million), tennis champs Serena Williams ($260 million) and Maria Sharapova ($220 million), actress Sandra Bullock ($225 million), and Kardashians’ mom-ager Kris Jenner ($230 million).

But the winner won’t be a billionaire, despite the advertised jackpot. Most lottery winners opt for the lump sum cash payout, which as of Friday at noon Eastern time Mega Millions said was $747.2 million (its “cash option”). The winner then has to pay federal taxes on the stash–after which they’d be left with about $470 million. (Depending on the state where the winner lives, there could be additional state taxes.)

At a $470 million net worth, the winner would even be richer than Dolly Partonwho has performed and worked her way up over a more than five-decade career. Forbes estimates she is worth $375 million. (These net worths come from Forbes‘ 2022 list of America’s Richest Self-Made Women, published in June.) And the winner’s net worth would be just $10 million less than that of Judge Judy–former New York Family Court judge Judy Sheindlinwho hosted a daytime court show on TV for a quarter of a century and now helms the series “Judy Justice” on Amazon’s Freevee.

But whoever it is, at least for now, wouldn’t measure up to Taylor Swift ($570 million), Madonna ($575 million) or Kylie Jenner ($600 million).

One thing that’s happened as the jackpot has grown in size: the likelihood that there will be more than one winner has increased, as my colleague William Baldwin spells out here. And who knows how many people–friends and relatives–will show up at the winner’s door expecting a share of the payout. There have been lawsuits about oral agreements around lottery winners, meaning that even single winners may have to share.

If the winner decides to take the annual payout–30 installations over 29 years–the math changes a bit. The annual payout would be about $42.7 million before taxes, and $26.9 million after paying federal taxes, per calculations by What the winner does with that money each year – invests it, gives much of it away, spends heavily on a daily basis–would determine their net worth after three decades. If they just saved the money and lived off the investment returns (and didn’t have to pay state taxes), they’d have just over $800 million after 30 years.

That would make them richer than many of the celebrities on Forbes‘ Self-Made Women list. But not all of them: Oprah Winfrey ($2.6 billion), Kim Kardashian ($1.8 billion) and Rihanna ($1.4 billion) are all wealthier than that now.


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