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.
powerball numbers

Post by: ,
Filed under: Lotto
soundoff (486 Responses)
  1. i have a dream

    if i win i would buy mercenarys to make a revolution, few thousand men who would destroy washington d.c and jew run wallstreet

    March 28, 2012 at 5:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      Hey man becareful of your choice of words.It is not fun to say that you will end up in jail wighout winning.You IDIOT. This is not freedom of speech

      March 28, 2012 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • dumbdumbdumbdumbdumb

      Save a little bit to hire an English teacher. You wouldn't want people to think you sound ignorant, right?

      March 28, 2012 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Mike

    Well, not ALL chicks...

    March 28, 2012 at 5:44 pm | Report abuse |
  3. ben

    id donate enough money to ron paul so that he would be instant front runner, buy every delegate. oh yeah. romney would go broke tryin to flex on deez nuts.

    March 28, 2012 at 5:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • larryb

      cool and then obama will win

      March 28, 2012 at 6:02 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Michael Brown

    I just might buy a couple tickets before Friday just because of this. I usually only play scratch offs every so often, but this is too good to pass up!

    March 28, 2012 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
  5. TheMovieFan

    If I win it, I will donate millions to Planned Parenthood, NARAL, ACLU, etc...

    March 28, 2012 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
  6. WDinDallas

    Half to the RCC, half to the RNC.

    March 28, 2012 at 6:21 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Les

    If I win it all goes to boot the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave out of DC

    March 28, 2012 at 6:26 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Lloyd

    Three states allow the winners to remain unidentified, Kansas is one of those states.

    March 28, 2012 at 6:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • m harr

      Or, 10,000 folks can get $50,000 each. But no, GREED again wins! One is the winner.

      March 28, 2012 at 7:00 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Bubba

    If I win, I will open a store and name is "Schweaddy Balls", where all kinds of balls are sold.

    March 28, 2012 at 6:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • CapitalP

      Sounds about coming from a guy named Bubba. Live the dream brother!

      March 28, 2012 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dick Vorce

      How's high school workin out for ya, brah?

      March 28, 2012 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dick Vorce

      How's high school workin out for ya there, brah?

      March 28, 2012 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • michael

      That's original. Try a name that hasn't already been taken.....Jimmy Fallon, anyone?

      March 28, 2012 at 9:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • michael

      That's original. Try a name that hasn't already been taken.....Jimmy Fallon, anyone?

      March 28, 2012 at 9:08 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Keith

    1% here I come!!!!

    March 28, 2012 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Matt

    If I win, I am going to Sizzler!

    March 28, 2012 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
  12. gahh

    I'll be quite happy with 5 numbers and 250 thousand dollars.

    March 28, 2012 at 6:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cam

      Same here man

      March 29, 2012 at 12:53 am | Report abuse |
  13. Matt

    The only problem with a win like this is the publicity. It would make national headlines so there is no escaping the associated drama and fanfare. Everyone in practically the world would know who I am so it will mean beefing up security a little bit.

    March 28, 2012 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • cesar gonzalez

      "Jackpot"!! Well this just shows that California is addicted to "pot". Whoever the winner is there is no hiding; all pot lovers will sniff out the millions of greens. These millions will sure come in handy to help all "pots" become legal in California. Pro choice for pot beer is more deadly than pot, pro choice for pot beer is more deadly than pot ,pro choice for pot beer is more deadly than pot. Dam i feel high!!! Lets see, how do you play lottoy? Whats a number dude. . .

      March 28, 2012 at 7:48 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Matt

    With a half a billion dollars, who needs an eduvacation .... LOL!

    March 28, 2012 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse |
  15. clearfog

    I need to win. It is an important part of my retirement planning. And god, if you are reading this, I promise to be good and give you 10%. Deal?

    March 28, 2012 at 7:13 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18