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. Krusty the Clown

    500 million Mazzulians! Holy Shlamola! Whaddya gonna do with all that Kablingy?

    March 28, 2012 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Dee

    It's mine already. Thank you in advance for all for your well wishes!

    March 28, 2012 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dee

      Sorry...got so excited, I typed it wrong. Meant to say: Thank you in advance for each of your well wishes!

      March 28, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
  3. ZOOMER165

    HEY LET'S ALL START AN ONLINE LOTTERY POOL .

    March 28, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Alex

    Please. After taxes that $500 million will be a measly $200 million. Will someone please tell me how I'm supposed to live off that pittance? I'd be forced to only own 5 homes, a mid size yacht, and NO moon base.

    March 28, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • KM

      Newt? Is that you?

      March 28, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ro

      I know right?? I said same thing. I will have to change spec's of my soon to be built beach house to 11,00 sq ft. NOT FAIR

      March 28, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
  5. zhoro

    Those who are just thinking of what they would buy with the money, won't get very far in life. The smart ones invest. I would invest most of the prize right back into the lottery.

    March 28, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
  6. ZOOMER165

    I'm gonna give it all to who ever is running against Oblama.

    March 28, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
  7. GAW

    If I win can I continue to collect food stamps? 😛

    March 28, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • palintwit

      Only if you're black.

      March 28, 2012 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • sanjosemike

      Gaw asked: "Can I still collect food stams if I win?"

      sanjosemike responds:

      Depends on your state, if they vote Democrat, yes, Republican, No.

      March 28, 2012 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
  8. aj

    how about they take that 500 million and pay for victims of violent crime's hostpital bills. the poor uninsured people

    March 28, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Marshall

    I buy a ticket BUT I think I'll be too scared to win the jackpot. First off I don;t know what to do with that much $$, then I would be scared for my life because I'm sure I'll have all kinds of people begging/bugging me for $$$ and that whatever I give will probably never be enough and caused bad blood etc!
    Also be paranoid about people trying to kidnap me or my kids.

    March 28, 2012 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
  10. erich2112x

    If I win this, I will give every member of my family a hundred bucks each to spend on whatever they want. Just go crazy.

    March 28, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
  11. billy

    that's too much money. If I win I'm going to give most of it away, I'd rather win $10 million and not get the media scrutiny that the winner is going to get.

    March 28, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Serenity

    I need to win this so I can buy the rights to "Firefly" and get that show back on the air!!

    March 28, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • NODAT1

      ok then what would you do with remaining 4,999,999.00 ???????

      March 28, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cheeks

      I hope you win!

      March 28, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  13. loverpoint

    I played six different tickets and didn't get one number, what are the odds?

    March 28, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dennis

      A lot to a little.

      March 28, 2012 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Dennis

    If I win, I'm going to buy the nudie pics of Scarlett Johansson..

    March 28, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Silly Baggers!

    I hope I win but I hope a few other people win with me. If I get the whole thing so be it but there is enough to make a few peoples dreams come true.

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