Mega Millions lottery jackpot hits $363 million
The cash option payout for Tuesday night's Mega Millions drawing is $259 million.
March 27th, 2012
12:34 PM ET

Mega Millions lottery jackpot hits $363 million

Strong sales of Mega Millions lottery tickets are reported across the country for Tuesday night's estimated $363 million jackpot, the third largest in the game's history.

"Peak sales hours for Mega Millions are typically on the day of the drawing during the evening rush hour. We anticipate brisk sales as people head home from work," said Tandi Reddick, media relations manager for the Georgia Lottery Corp.

The drawing is at 11 p.m. ET Tuesday.

A winning ticket must match all five numbers drawn from a pot containing 56 balls and then match the Mega Ball, which is drawn from a pot containing 46 numbers. Odds of winning are almost 176 million to 1. Each ticket costs $1.

The $363 million prize is payable as an annuity over 26 years. The cash option payout for Tuesday's jackpot is $259 million. Both are before taxes.

Arizona lottery officials say that Tuesday night's cash option payout is the largest in history, a fact they attribute to the country's current low interest rates.

Either amount would be larger than what America's best paid corporate executives make in a year. For 2010, that was $84.5 million, according to a CNNMoney report. It would also put a winner ahead of the annual haul of Hollywood's biggest earners, such as director/actor/writer Tyler Perry ($130 million in 2010) and producer Jerry Bruckheimer ($113 million in 2010), according to

The game's biggest jackpot was $390 million in the March 6, 2007, drawing. That jackpot was split by winners in Georgia and New Jersey.

On January 4, 2011, a $380 million jackpot was also split by two winners, one in Idaho and one in Washington.

Four winning tickets split a $336 million jackpot on August 28, 2007.

If the jackpot goes to a single winning ticket, it would be the largest in the game's history. A little more than a year ago, seven state workers in New York bought a ticket that earned them a $319 million jackpot.

The biggest single-ticket win in the other nationwide lottery, the Powerball, was in February 2006 when a ticket held by eight workers at a Nebraska food plant paid a $365 million jackpot.

Mega Millions is played in 42 states plus the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands.

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Filed under: Lotto
soundoff (116 Responses)
  1. LogiK

    A cruel joke on those that can least afford it – distract the masses with games.

    March 27, 2012 at 8:11 pm | Report abuse |
  2. mikrik13

    I waited in line 2.5+ hours this afternoon at the Terrible's Lotto Store in Primm, NV. The waiting line was exactly as long when I left there after 4pm. Primm is the town closest to the California border in southern Nevada where one can buy Mega Millions tickets. The southern tip of Primm juts across the NV/CA border to accommodate only that store. Amazing!!!

    March 27, 2012 at 8:55 pm | Report abuse |
  3. ♔Mmmmm♕

    man I could really use the moolies...ok cough it up guys...and no throwing boots or wooden nickels in this poor man's pan...

    March 27, 2012 at 9:17 pm | Report abuse |
  4. ♔Mmmmm♕

    gimme some good numbers...y'all!

    March 27, 2012 at 9:18 pm | Report abuse |
  5. HdentaalP

    The article incorrectly states "The $363 million prize is payable as an annuity over 26 years. The cash option payout for Tuesday's jackpot is $259 million. Both are before taxes." Both are not before taxes, only the first one is.

    If you chose annual payments over a 26-year period, then you would have to pay taxes from each year's payment. But if you chose the Cash Option, in this case $259 million, then the taxes are already withheld from the $363 million. In other words, you get $259 million after taxes.

    CNN is supposed to be a top-notch news service, please get something as simple as this right.

    March 27, 2012 at 10:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dirk Diggler

      You're incorrect. CNN reported it right. the cash option is the only money available and it IS before taxes. If you choose the Higher option they use the cash ($259 mill) and buy a zero bond. The bond purchased for the cash amount ($259 mill) will be worth $363 mil in 26 years. So, you can either take the cash option ($259 mill) untaxed money or you can take the payments option ($259 mill) + interest over 26 years untaxed.

      March 28, 2012 at 1:43 am | Report abuse |
  6. Guldric

    Mega Millions website not posted next jackpot at $476 Million. WOW!!!!!

    March 28, 2012 at 1:45 am | Report abuse |
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