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. Daniel

    I could finally afford to purchase healthcare insurance. However, most of the higher tier plans would unfortunately be beyond my reach. Even a multimillionaire has to be practical and budget their expenses.

    March 28, 2012 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
  2. David

    Power!

    March 28, 2012 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
  3. mrlgh

    Winning all that money wouldn't change me.....it would change how I see all of YOU! hahahahahaha

    March 28, 2012 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Elmore Frank Brown Jr

    I hope I will play the lottery ticket on Friday and win the mega million dollars. Please pray for me so I can win. Thanks.

    March 28, 2012 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • elusively2

      Yeah, right, I'm going to pray for YOU to win. Don't think so because I'm going to win.

      March 28, 2012 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
  5. neones

    could you guys imagine if i win the maga million lottery 😀 i'll be very happy !!!

    March 28, 2012 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Justin Bieblet

      i can imagine noone caring

      March 28, 2012 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Dean

    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.

    --------I'm 68 and could go thru the 15 million by Friday.

    March 28, 2012 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
  7. paule

    The winning numbers for Friday"s Drawing are going to be ,15,22,37,38,44 Mega 9 you're welcome!

    March 28, 2012 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bub

      You realize how many hundreds of people out there now are honestly going to play these numbers now right? They'll have the mindset "what-if" they really did win. You just wasted someone's hard earned money. Good job. The odds of your numbers winning are the same odds as 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 – Mega Ball 6 hitting. I think that's pretty telling.

      Having said this, the actual numbers really are going to be 4, 15, 18, 27, 39, Mega Ball 12. You're welcome.

      March 28, 2012 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Dean

    I'd buy me a Jets Tebow jersey.

    March 28, 2012 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Bub

    When I win this one I'm going to build a base on the moon.

    March 28, 2012 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
  10. bl4ck0utsUn

    I wouldn't mind leaving the country;) nor would I mind splitting it 3 ways or even 6 ways! First thing I do is buy a hydrogen car maybe a fleet of them! Then a few wind turbines! And a nice green energy hobby farm;) and.....

    March 28, 2012 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Pimpson

    I was gonna pick those numbers, damn it!

    March 28, 2012 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Draiden

    @don
    "I need the money for condoms and underware"
    yes. please wear condoms so you don't reproduce and have children with terrible spelling

    March 28, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Paul "Barry" Karn

    As an unemployed drunk 34 year old living in his parent's basement I find it tough to meet chicks! Sure I may spend the day loaded in my underground lair sitting on the couch in my underwear but you'd think by now I'd have a women to join me. Well, enough internet I need to get another bottle of rye before I start sobering up!

    March 28, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
  14. peoplepeople

    If I win that jackpot... I will gift about 1/3 of it to family and friends, I'm keeping half for myself and children... 50 percent of the taxable part is going to two local churches and one mosque in my community... I'm not very religious but Those 3 places are always having community events and food drives, my children's schools will get makeovers, teachers will get gifts, also I will open up some community gardens and parks. And most definitely use that money to learn how to make wine, build a house, oh heck... I will have time and money to learn how to do everything!!!

    March 28, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
  15. JSR

    How much longer could it keep increasing? Let's hope it gets up to $1B.

    March 28, 2012 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
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