Mega Millions jackpot hits record $500 million
While the annuity jackpot prize for Friday night's Mega Millions drawing is $500 million, the cash option payout is $359 million.
March 28th, 2012
04:53 PM ET

Mega Millions jackpot hits record $500 million

Editor's note: The day after this story was published, the jackpot estimate rose to $540 million.

The jackpot in Friday's Mega Millions lottery drawing has risen to an estimated $500 million, the largest in the game's history, after Tuesday night's drawing produced no jackpot-winning ticket.

The latest estimate, announced around midday Wednesday, is even larger than lottery officials had announced just hours earlier. The initial estimate for Friday's drawing was $476 million, which also would have been a Mega Millions record.

Tuesday's numbers were 9, 19, 34, 44 and 51, with a Mega Ball of 24. That drawing was for an estimated $363 million jackpot, which would have been the game's third-largest.

Forty-seven tickets earned a pre-tax prize of at least $250,000 each by matching five numbers without matching the Mega Ball. Nine California winners will get $308,573 each because of parimutuel rules in that state.

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

The growing jackpot has drawn plenty of interest from would-be millionaires. On Monday, lottery officials announced that "stronger than expected sales" prompted them to push up Tuesday's jackpot up from an initial estimate of $356 million to $363 million.

"I see so many different faces every day, and it's not just Tuesday and Friday that they come in. It's every day of the week," Latasha Allen, a manager at a Columbus, Georgia, convenience store, told CNN affiliate WTVM-TV this week about the growing number of lottery players in recent days.

In Virginia, one of the 42 states where Mega Millions is played, lottery officials expect that about 5.8 million tickets will be sold on Friday alone, Virginia Lottery spokesman John Hagerty said. Two Fridays ago, on March 16, the state is believed to have sold about 1.3 million tickets for a jackpot that was, at the time, $200 million.

"Sales are very, very strong in Virginia. It looks like we're seeing a lot more people who don't normally play want to get in the game," Hagerty said Wednesday afternoon.

Friday's $500 million prize is payable as an annuity over 26 years. If a winner prefers, he or she could choose a one-time, lump-sum payment, which in this case would be $359 million. Both figures are before taxes.

This prize has been building since January 24 when a Georgia woman won a $72 million Mega Millions prize. She chose a $52 million lump-sum cash option.

Last year, the game stopped just short of breaking its record. A $380 million jackpot was split by two winners, one in Idaho and another in Washington, on January 4, 2011.

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 U.S. Virgin Islands.

A jackpot-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.

Jackpots start at $12 million and rise for subsequent drawings when jackpot-winning tickets aren't sold.
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soundoff (486 Responses)
  1. MIke

    I spent $10 last night on MM. On one play I had 3 numbers right... halfway there! In the end, I got my $10 back with winnings but more importantly, I had an infinitely better shot at winning then if I didn't play.

    March 28, 2012 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Edward

    I would totally pay for sandra Fluke's contraceptives myself.

    March 28, 2012 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Joe

    Allah can bite the big one!

    March 28, 2012 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
  4. aroosh

    people see lot,s of money people start remembring GOD please guys after winng the mega could you gave me your 25% of your share because god say if i won i will gave to 50% to single moms charity because is pretty hard raised kids with no money in your hand .

    March 28, 2012 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
  5. kk

    As soon as I win, I am going to Mexico with a lot of fanfare and announce to the entire world (on TV, local newspapers, internet) where I am going to stay.

    March 28, 2012 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Robin

    My son can't spell (he's 15) but his grammar is better.

    March 28, 2012 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
  7. tilmeismoney

    If I win it , I'll buy weapns for Syria.

    March 28, 2012 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
  8. rufus

    I am going to write a check to help Warren Buffett's companies pay a small portion of the unpaid taxes they owe. It would be my "fair share" so billionaires can live it up and continue to be sanctimonious.

    March 28, 2012 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Trigger

      LMAO.... Thanks for the chuckle! Needed taht!

      March 28, 2012 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Sofa King

    I would not just be rich. I would be Sofa King rich.

    March 28, 2012 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
  10. AntiPsychos

    Someone who doesn't even know how many days are in a year!

    March 28, 2012 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Charles

    Its gonna be some old person that gets it like always.

    March 28, 2012 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Dave

    No one person deserves to win a half a billion bucks. At $100,000 a peice that jackpot could be shared by 5000 winners. That would change 5000 lives and the families. Think of how many foreclosures that could be paid off giving many people a fresh start. Instead it will go to one or two winners who may fall into drugs, gambling whatever. Rich people sometimes end up dead. Whitney Houston being the lastest that comes to mind. The kids born into the winners family will likely be in rehab or dead by 20 years old.

    March 28, 2012 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • JonPeter

      That's actually a good idea, but put a cap on the payout, say $104 million or about $4 million/year. When there is a winner, keep having capped $104 million lotteries, until the excess cash is depleted. There would be a series of big winners instead of one big winner.

      March 28, 2012 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Mike

    10/10, would read again.

    March 28, 2012 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Think big

    I would buy a house. With a clock in it.

    March 28, 2012 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
  15. cpc65

    If I'm not at work on Monday, you'll know why.

    March 28, 2012 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • kk

      Because you were out on Sunday night wit the boss' wife?

      March 28, 2012 at 6:05 pm | Report abuse |
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