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. jay


    March 28, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
  2. mrb1513

    Actually, i believe winning requires you to make a publice appearance...

    March 28, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • ur fase

      depends on the state you live in. some will allow you to claim anonymously or via a Trust.

      $500M is just awesomesauce! So much for the new PB matrix that was supposed to beat MM's records, lol!

      March 28, 2012 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
  3. scott

    one lucky person will get to join the middle class

    March 28, 2012 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
  4. NODAT1

    not sure if this means anything but last night my wife was online looking up blowfish tetrodotoxin when I asked why she just said just in case you win

    March 28, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Toolbox

    Isn't it strange the gov wins EVERY lottery (via taxes on winnings) yet schools still lack funding? Where does this money really go?

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

      Raided by politicians. By law, politicians cannot touch the money from lottery for anything other than school. So, politicians put the lottery money into a school fund and then they raid the school funds for their pet projects.

      March 28, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • JCMars

      ...and don't forget that before anyone wins the government has already received half the money. Then they get 50% of the winnings.

      March 28, 2012 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • GBG

      The problem is that for every dollar raised by the lottery for schools, a dollar is taken away from existing tax revenue earmarked for schools to be wasted elsewhere.

      March 28, 2012 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  6. dutspup

    Cant wait to see who the next toothless wonder or 90 year old wins.

    March 28, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • krissy316

      Too funny and too true

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

    After I buy all the things I need and want, and put some away for my grandchild, I would give a HUGE amount to the Obama campaign, Planned Parenthood, and a thousand other good, progressive causes for women, the environment and political causes. I would sit back and sip my Mai Tai in Maui and watch the tide go in and out. LOL

    March 28, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Andy

    CNN forgot to mention the little old lady in Rhodes Island that won a big jackpot all by herself, I think it was soime 363 millions.

    March 28, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Andy

    CNN forgot to mention the little old lady in Rhodes Island that won a big jackpot all by herself, I think it was some 363 millions.

    March 28, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
  10. JCMars

    There needs to be a law making it illegal to buy lottery tickets if you are receiving any kind of government assistance (food stamps, housing assistance, grants, welfare, EIC, etc.). If you are getting government support, you shouldn't be spending you're money foolishly on lotteries. I want to prevent a repeat of the woman here in Michigan who won the lottery for $1M and yet continued to collect food stamps. State run lotteries are primarily a voluntary tax on the poor.

    March 28, 2012 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Gerald

    The 1,200 hp Bugatti Veyron Vitesse (02 in pearl Grey) comes to mind as a very nice toy to buy... Dont you think?

    March 28, 2012 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Carole Clarke

    Wait a minute – underware – are those metallic or ceramic devices men use in their shorts? Who knew? Alert the media!!!

    March 28, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Winner

    I hope an old person wins it this time.

    March 28, 2012 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
  14. LAXMIA

    I just hope that a few people that I detest don't win it! That would ruin my year and make me miserable for a long, long time!

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

    The best way to win:


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

      One person will be glad to not take the advice "don't play"

      The key is don't throw $100 or $1000 into the lottery. It really does not increase your odds of winning very much. If you are going to play, pay a buck or two...

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