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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Filed under: Lotto
soundoff (486 Responses)
  1. mdocdoc

    I think winning would be a two-edged sword; on the one hand you could do so much for others, on the otherhand I'd be afraid of my families security and knowing who my real friends were!

    March 28, 2012 at 8:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Duke

      I would take that chance ...

      March 28, 2012 at 9:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Alex

      i see no edge to that sword. show me the money.

      March 28, 2012 at 9:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Pam

      I've always felt the same way. It seems to be so public. Where we live we would immediately have to vacate the premises.

      March 28, 2012 at 9:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Kana

      With the winnings you could buy that double edge sword

      March 28, 2012 at 10:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Mariah

      I'm on the same page as you. I would claim it anonymously, that would be the best and safest way. There are some people out there, including ones own family, that would try anything to get to the money. There's a show about how the lottery changed peoples lives and some of those stories are tragic.

      March 28, 2012 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
    • mb2010a

      You'd be surprised how many "family members" and friends would suddenly materialize out of nowhere. If I won, I wouldn't tell anyone, especially my "family".

      March 28, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Siege

      I don't think you're allowed to claim winnings anonymously.

      March 28, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  2. GoldenGod

    Good luck finding me if I hit.

    March 28, 2012 at 8:48 am | Report abuse |
  3. No More Taxes

    It's time our government stopped its tax grab on lottery winnings. Most other countries' lottery winnings are tax free.

    March 28, 2012 at 8:50 am | Report abuse |
    • Reality Check

      Oh, really? Name three.

      March 28, 2012 at 8:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Shooter

      That will never happen!

      March 28, 2012 at 8:59 am | Report abuse |
    • Duke

      False – except where there is no income tax to begin with. Lottery income is treated as ordinary income in every country I know of, and taxable.

      March 28, 2012 at 9:03 am | Report abuse |
    • squiggy

      For the ones questioning this post: Canada, Australia, Germany, Ireland, Italy, UK. And yes, they DO have an income tax for other types of income.

      March 28, 2012 at 9:10 am | Report abuse |
    • noteabags

      We need taxes so we can start more wars.

      March 28, 2012 at 9:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Jeremy

      How about the government stop the excessive amount of corporate tax compared to other First World Nations..Canada @15%–USA@35% and stop all loopholes in the process.

      March 28, 2012 at 9:17 am | Report abuse |
    • really?

      so taxing $478 million is going to hurt you that much? i couldnt even spend 15 million in my lifetime..and i am 28.

      March 28, 2012 at 9:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Mez

      Yes and no, they're only tax free in that the tax is paid within the purchase of each ticket, so everyone pays a little tax rather than just the winner. What I dislike the most is when the numbers are artificially inflated to be "the amount paid over 20 years". Personally I'd like whatever the real amount is that you're going to win to be the amount advertized, this "You've won $100 million, here's your check for $30 million" deal seems like false advertizing to me.

      March 28, 2012 at 9:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Real Republican

      "No More Taxes" Sounds like one of those Fox News Republicans – Makes stuff up to match what they want to believe and states it as fact.

      March 28, 2012 at 9:33 am | Report abuse |
    • Kana

      @Mez – your payout is based on whether you choose a 20yr annuity or the lump sum amount. If yoyu take the annuity you get the whole pot over time minus taxes. Taking the lump sum your payout is adjusted. Read your ticket.

      March 28, 2012 at 10:09 am | Report abuse |
    • ser

      they are here in get every cent you win....of course we dont' get huge lotteries like that....50 million is the most.

      March 28, 2012 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dennis

      @Really? Dude you could spend that on a yacht.. GTFO here.. I could blow 15 million in 15 mins.

      March 28, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • sameeker

      If I INVEST in a ticket, should I not be allowed to only pay 15% on my CAPITAL GAINES?

      March 28, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  4. don

    i need the money for condoms and underware

    March 28, 2012 at 8:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Jack from Tennessee


      March 28, 2012 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Johnny q

      Under where?

      March 28, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • underwhere?

      a lot of people concerned with spelling

      March 28, 2012 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • avoiceinmyhead

      Maybe his crotch is so freaking awesome that he ready meant underware.

      March 28, 2012 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • sw

      Don't forget to get a dictionary too

      March 28, 2012 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Alex

      Well said

      March 28, 2012 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
    • urbrainwashed

      if you win that kind of money, you don't have to know how to spell.

      March 28, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • liz

      thats funny

      March 28, 2012 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • tom

      You need to prioritize and get yourself a dictionary so you can spell underwear correctly. That should be the first dollar you spend your winnings on.

      March 28, 2012 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Sweetee

      lol damn that was funny

      March 28, 2012 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Jessica

      I truly wish people wouldn't chastise others for spelling errors. Maybe the person speaks English as a second or later language and can be forgiven for mistakes. Or perhaps someone has a learning disability. Or perhaps he was just distracted for a moment. There is no need to humiliate someone publicly for an error. If you need to make the point, just post a reply that includes the correctly spelled word. That way, you teach someone without being rude.

      March 28, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • NODAT1

      grow thicker skin if you want a PC world hang out at the local coffee house!!!!!!

      March 28, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Captain

      Based on his needs, it's safe to say he earned the responses! Don't you sweat it unless you really want to help him with his needs!

      March 28, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeff

      Tom, if you are going to correct someone's grammer and spelling, try not to end a sentence in a preposition.


      March 28, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Charles

      That's "grammar."

      March 28, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • madmaninthemiddle

      There are some things up with which I will not put.

      March 28, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      Umm...Jeff, that would be grammar...not grammer.

      March 28, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Juan Carlos Ruiz

      Jeff, if you're going to correct someone's spelling and/or grammar, it might be best to spell all of the words correctly, especially spelling and/or GRAMMAR. 🙂

      March 28, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • EZ

      Avoid ending sentences with a preposition.

      March 28, 2012 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Trooppy

      Sir I think you meant PREDISPOSITION.

      March 28, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • ME

      And a bunch of RealDolls amirite?

      March 28, 2012 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dean

      and maybe a spelling lesson or two?

      March 28, 2012 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • tammy

      that's a good one. hahahaha!

      March 28, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Teacher

      Perhaps you could use the money to go back to school to learn how to spell. I suppose ignorance is bliss.

      March 28, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • funny

      Funny thing is your were probably his teacher!! LOL

      March 28, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Edward

      They'd get more of thier money's worth hiring someone to spell for them rather then pay someone to teach them conisidering teachers can't do a very go job at it.

      March 28, 2012 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • gratular

      The reality is people who chastise others for spelling errors on the internet are simply trying to justify/vent about the wasted money spent on their extended education.. Somehow you still knew what the bad speller was trying to say, hmmmm... Maybe the bad speller knew how to spell the word, and just didnt care to correct it because its the internet.... hmmmm.. oops did i forget to capitalize the i's and put apostrophes? Tragic, but somehow you'll still understand my post..

      March 29, 2012 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • mb2010a

      Forget the "underware"...just go "commando". You might need the condoms, though...

      March 28, 2012 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dover

      And spelling lessons.

      March 28, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • pj77

      And spelling lessons.

      March 28, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • ParaSalin

      I would build a swimming pool on the moon if I won. and see what happens when i do a cannon ball

      March 28, 2012 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bigdick-Daddy Rat that you Aker? You sick little....

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

      You need to spend the money on EDUCATION – It's "underwear" you 3rd grader – not "underware" 😉

      March 28, 2012 at 9:13 pm | Report abuse |
  5. booboo

    I play 1027 dcx5-3-box looking for 1227 in md and dc today 3 str 3 box

    March 28, 2012 at 8:53 am | Report abuse |
  6. Paul

    What does it profit a man to gain the whole world but lose his very soul?

    March 28, 2012 at 8:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Kay

      Never seemed to bother the rich TV preachers.

      March 28, 2012 at 9:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Jeremy

      I am a evangelical and I believe as long as you give towards Godly Charity at a percentage that is pleasing to the Holy Spirit then you would not lose your soul if you are strong in Christ..playing the lottery and winning does not make you a sinner as long as it is not your vocation or stumbling block in your faith. Too many brothers and sisters in Christ portray any and all money not going directly to the church as against the church..far from the truth, it is a culturally derived practice handed down by the power grab of the modern church both Protestant, Catholic and Mormon.

      March 28, 2012 at 9:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Dracula

      What is a man? But a miserable pile of secrets! But enough talk, have at you!

      March 28, 2012 at 9:24 am | Report abuse |
    • RZ70

      30 pieces of silver, of course

      March 28, 2012 at 9:25 am | Report abuse |
    • ME

      I'm pretty sure $400 million is nowhere near "the whole world".

      March 28, 2012 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • conrad

      Nice comment Paul. I agree, but with that much money you could make a positive difference in the lives of many people. If you chose to. You can make that choice rich or poor.

      March 28, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  7. vg6

    OMG, could you imagine! That is so much money... I think I'd buy a new honda

    March 28, 2012 at 9:01 am | Report abuse |
  8. Kay

    @JPS: No, it's PowerBall tickets that are two dollars now. Mega Millions are still only $1.

    March 28, 2012 at 9:01 am | Report abuse |
  9. myfiplan

    Lottery winnings are tax free up here in Canada same with casino winnings as well.

    March 28, 2012 at 9:08 am | Report abuse |
  10. proud_canadian

    FYI – lotto winnings in Canada are not considered income, and are not taxed.

    March 28, 2012 at 9:13 am | Report abuse |
  11. ziegfeldf

    A tax on st u pidity:

    The larger the pot, the proportionately lower the odds of your winning.

    Do I need to explain?

    March 28, 2012 at 9:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Yo Mamma

      No one actually expects to win, moron. Just the idea of winning is enough for some people to 'gamble' a dollar. Do I need to explain?

      March 28, 2012 at 9:22 am | Report abuse |
    • pete

      false. odds are based on the probability of selecting correct numbers, and are not related in any way to how many people are playing. odds of winning will be the same if you are the only person playing, or if everyone in the US bought a ticket.

      March 28, 2012 at 9:27 am | Report abuse |
    • RZ70

      No, the larger the increase, the lower the odds of only a single winning ticket being sold. An individual's chance of winning is always in direct proportion to the number of chances taken. Now... would you rather have half or even a third of $476M or all of $120M (the typical tipping piont a at which the odss of multiple winners exceeds the 'I would not have guessed that' status).

      March 28, 2012 at 9:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Jeffo

      Yes. Please DO explain the odds of winning. The odds of being the ONLY winner go down....the odds of winning are based on the # of lotto balls and do not change whether one... or one billion others playing

      March 28, 2012 at 9:33 am | Report abuse |
    • Curious

      Yes, you do need to explain. In all of the probability problems I had to do in school, never was the amount of the prize included in the formula to calculate the odds of winning. The odds of winning are the same whether the pot is 1 dollar or a billion dollars. As more people purchase tickets, the odds of SHARING my winnings goes up, but the odds of me winning stay the same.

      March 28, 2012 at 9:41 am | Report abuse |
    • ME

      It's a tax on Irrationality, not Stupidity. Yes, it's not rational to expect to win. And yes, if your irrational expenditures come at the expense of genuine needs, then it becomes a stupid act. But if your money was going to another irrational purchase (think "disposable income"), there's no fundamental difference.

      March 28, 2012 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Adam

      You are wrong. Your odds of winning do not change based on the number of people playing. This is a common misconception. A lot of people also think that the more states involved in a lottery, the lower their chance of winning. That too is wrong. Your odds of winning on 1 ticket are exactly the same regardless is 1 person plays or 10 billion play.

      Now, the odds of multiple winners for a jackpot do go up as more people play.

      March 28, 2012 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • pj77

      Yes, you do need to explain. Your odds of winning are the same, whether 10 million people buy a ticket, or 100 million people buy a ticket. The odds of your numbers coming up remain the same.

      March 28, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andy

      Your odds of "winning" are the same regardless of the number of players; yes, your odds of winning the entire pot are lowered, but I'd split $500 million a few ways versus the alternative......

      March 28, 2012 at 10:09 pm | Report abuse |
  12. ziegfeldf

    Re the tax laws: a more pertinent question is whether you can write off your *losses*

    March 28, 2012 at 9:17 am | Report abuse |
  13. IndependentlyPoor

    Wow $476 million. Even after tax that is Mitt Romney money!!!!!!!!!

    March 28, 2012 at 9:19 am | Report abuse |
  14. Jim Bob

    $476 million? I could live on that.

    March 28, 2012 at 9:26 am | Report abuse |
  15. Pam

    I just wonder if who ever wins will keep using their food stamps.

    March 28, 2012 at 9:31 am | Report abuse |
    • palintwit

      Only if they're black.

      March 28, 2012 at 9:38 am | Report abuse |
    • NODAT1

      Didn't know the food stamps came in different colors. what other color do they come in?

      March 28, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
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