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. nigella4u

    I would first take care of all my wants, then I would help sooooooo many people, family, friends, charities, but make sure I always have plenty for myself so as to not ever worry about money again.

    March 28, 2012 at 10:26 pm | Report abuse |
  2. glendor

    Omg!millions not billions!Well I would buy some piglets and start a pig farm in Israel with the best pulled pork sandwiches in the whole america of united mexicans of arabishanigin!

    March 28, 2012 at 10:29 pm | Report abuse |
  3. RJ

    Couldn't you just buy all 176 million possible combinations and win the 500 million? Even if you split the money with someone else, its still 250 million, more than the invested 176.

    March 28, 2012 at 10:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • sadtosay

      RJ, you lose a large portion when you take the lump sum and then another huge chunk to taxes. Even if you won half of it that wouldnt recoup your losses after taxes, and what if there was like 3 other winners. If you had that kind of cash why risk it trying to win more.

      March 28, 2012 at 10:54 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Mittens

    I'd hold fund-raisers so I could run for president. You don't expect me to spend my own money, do ya?

    March 28, 2012 at 10:31 pm | Report abuse |
  5. anon

    I'd buy some land and have a truly self sufficient / air filtered underground bunker. And one share of Apple stock.

    March 28, 2012 at 10:32 pm | Report abuse |
  6. anon

    I hate my HOA. So I'd buy a defunct Russian tank and park it in my driveway. Then I'd kill all the grass and paint the house jet black and walk. I'd let the house fall into disrepair leaving a note saying, good luck selling this POS with some stupid HOA lein on the property because I didn't pay the $100 fine for parking in the driveway.

    March 28, 2012 at 10:39 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Harley

    I would seek matching public private partnerships and launch a "beautify" Yemen campaign up to the entire 500m with matching funding from other international organizations as well as public private partnerships with the large oil and IT companies working in the country.

    March 28, 2012 at 10:40 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Anchorage, Ak

    I would by a really big yacht, rent a couple of pretty ladies and tour the world.

    March 28, 2012 at 10:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Darren

      you should take english lessons too..

      March 29, 2012 at 12:28 am | Report abuse |
  9. ANYK

    join my other 1% 'Er's on the moon colony....duh

    March 28, 2012 at 10:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • ANYK

      ...and of course buy everyone in the world an Etch-A-Sketch...

      March 28, 2012 at 10:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • ANYK

      I'd want to win just enough so that money wouldn't have to worry about me...

      March 28, 2012 at 10:56 pm | Report abuse |
  10. rjack

    Get a nasty growth off my face, hire a maid, and a personal trainer. Would hire pros to fix up and secure this house, buy another one in Europe. Fix up all the relatives, then donate to fave organizations and be in their rich soirees and trips. Travel, meet long lost relatives in Europe, visit friends, donate more.

    March 28, 2012 at 10:45 pm | Report abuse |
  11. rodbinnc

    I would build a giant robot cat and conquer the world!!!!!!

    March 28, 2012 at 10:51 pm | Report abuse |
  12. blessedgeek

    With 500 million – taxes, I will set up a fund to help small biz and dump all that money into that fund, and continue to live my lower-middle class life-style. I will also use the fund to make connections in the healthcare circles and interested communities to roll out a citizen-driven health care system and hope to make the movement so big that people will find it a better alternative to the current profit-driven health insurance..

    March 28, 2012 at 10:55 pm | Report abuse |
  13. dayhiker48

    The headline on CNN says $500 Billion. So the first thing I'm going to do when I win is sue CNN for the difference.

    March 28, 2012 at 11:02 pm | Report abuse |
  14. james

    I'd spend it on women and beer and waste the rest!....

    March 28, 2012 at 11:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • wiser

      putting it on women and beer IS wasting it

      March 29, 2012 at 7:00 am | Report abuse |
  15. Promise

    If I win i wont give a dime to anyone.

    March 29, 2012 at 12:11 am | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18