Imagine this -- you wake up to a regular day with jobs to do and bills to pay. At the gas station, you pick up a scratch-off for $20. You start scratching, which is satisfying on its own, but find yourself stunned by what is revealed. You've won the top prize, $1 million dollars. That's what happened to one Longview resident this week.

Who, What and Where?

The Longview resident chose to remain anonymous, so we may never know his or her name. The person purchased their winning ticket at Food Fast #1073, located at 3357 Gilmer Road in Longview. They chose the one-time cash payout of $500,000 instead of annual payments that break the jackpot up over 30 years.

Texas Lotto Scratch tickets cost $1, $2, $3, $5, $10 or $20, with top prizes increasing as the cost of the ticket goes up. Most the games with $20 tickets have up to 15 prizes worth $1 million and lots of tickets with smaller prize amounts.

Odds of winning the top prize at the $20 ticket level are 1 in 3,348,000.00.

Why Remain Anonymous?

In Texas, lotto winners with a jackpot of $1 million or more can withhold identifying information from the press when they claim their prize. It's a wise move that can keep every old friend, nonprofit organization and down-on-their-luck family member from requesting a piece of the pie.

Why Cash Payout vs. Annual Payments

One can only speculate why the Longview resident chose an immediate payment of half the scratch ticket's value instead of a million dollars paid out over time. There are pros and cons to both.

  • Winners who take the lump sum don't just receive a reduced amount, they also have to pay their entire tax bill up front. It's usually deducted from the payout before they receive it.
  • An annuity protects winners from spending everything at once.
  • The balance during annual payments accrues interest.
  • Not everyone is guaranteed 30 years. Sometimes it's better to enjoy what you're given today.
  • A lump sum payout is available for immediate investment, so it gives the winner the ability to put it to work generating income.

For most East Texans, deciding between half a million dollars today and a million dollars over 30 years would be a welcome problem to have. What would you choose?