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. Democrate Jim

    I wonder how many collecting welfare are selling stamps to buy tickets ?

    March 28, 2012 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
    • Jack from Tennessee

      How much for yours? I need some steaks idiot

      March 28, 2012 at 10:38 am | Report abuse |
    • MikeInNebraska

      Millions do on YOUR tax money. It is BS. Hope a illegal wins it and then they don't award the money to them since they are in the country illegally or a welfare/food stamp/WIC person (probably the same person even) and they withhold the money to pay back into the broken system. PRICELESS!

      March 28, 2012 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
  2. fernace

    Lottery: Forgot 2 check tha paper for my winning ticket, But now I have another chance to hope I can win it, I work all day, For my hard earned pay, & I spend my dolla, 4 a chance to scream & holla, I'm tha Winner!!! By: FV!

    March 28, 2012 at 10:38 am | Report abuse |
  3. pdxlight

    $476 million is a ludicrously perverse amount of money. The system should be overhauled with winnings capped at say $100 million and the rest awarded through either multiple drawings or other means.

    March 28, 2012 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Mike in Pekin

      That is the best part about the lottery!! The fact that sometimes, the jackpot is just outrageous! And really, 476 million is ridiculous, but 100 million isn't? Just let it go and dream like the rest of us. Besides, normally when it gets this high, it is split by multiple winners because ticket sales go through the roof.

      March 28, 2012 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
    • jwk1

      Yes, it is perverse, but not more that paying million of dollars people who play baseball, basketball or play in movies.

      March 28, 2012 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
    • George

      Then don't play it. I am so tired of hearing people complain about "how big" the lottery has gotten. If you don't like it then you don't have to spend the dollar. The only reason the lottery has gotten this big is because lots of people play only when they see a big jackpot.

      March 28, 2012 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Hey You

      Why?

      March 28, 2012 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
  4. You know I'm right

    You know....They might win the $476 million.....but they still won't be able to spell.....but then again...WHY would you need to spell? Do you really need to spell on your own little island?

    March 28, 2012 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
  5. CullThePopulace

    I will win this. It is written and guaranteed.
    And I will help thousands of people and animals with my winnings.
    That's a promise.

    March 28, 2012 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
    • MikeInNebraska

      Yeah right. $10 doesn't go far. LMAO

      March 28, 2012 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
    • conrad

      Help through culling?

      March 28, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  6. scott

    who cares

    March 28, 2012 at 10:50 am | Report abuse |
  7. jeff

    People are such fools. The reason 1 person wins so much money instead of several or more winning ONLY 20 million say is because ticket sales lag unless the jackpot is more than anyone could possibly need.

    March 28, 2012 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
  8. alex g

    think of how many lottery tickets you could buy with that money

    March 28, 2012 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
  9. stonewaller

    Let's all make a pact right now if any of us win we split it end of story we will be known as the the unknowns of cnn blogs. or how about the blogs of unknowns winners of the largest jackpot in history..hehe..ya thats it..then we will all go streaking thru the quad...ya thats it...

    March 28, 2012 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
  10. ohioan

    won $2 last night on my one ticket I bought. Doubled my money! Bought one more ticket and a coffee this morning.

    March 28, 2012 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
  11. Bill

    oh the idiot tax, we need more of it.

    March 28, 2012 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
  12. vpn

    the number of combinations are actually 5520 multiplied by 176mils. please dont go out and get a loan.

    March 28, 2012 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
  13. some mindless drone

    I'm going to buy about 100 lottery tickets and give the government a bunch of money so that I can hopefully win a few million dollars and get out of this boring meaningless dunghole life that I'm stuck in.

    March 28, 2012 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
  14. Idiots

    If I win this money, I will buy a Nintendo.

    March 28, 2012 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
  15. A

    Give everyone in America $1M

    March 28, 2012 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
    • conrad

      With this jackpot you could give everyone in America about a buck fifty.

      $1.50

      March 28, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
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