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. sadfj2kljkls

    Time for a billionare to buy all 176 million possible tickets and be assured a winning ticket. Sure someone else might win too, but with the jackpot that high, i think thee is a good chance they will turn a guarenteeded profit.

    March 28, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • jerrymcm1970

      Logistically impossible.

      March 28, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • GBG

      Actually buying all the tickets is VERY risky. Say you spent 175 million dollars on tickets and won. Ok, cash payout and after taxes, you'd clear $225 million. That sounds like a pretty clear cut win of $50 mill. BUT what happens if one other person wins? All of sudden you're collection $110 mil and you're out $65 mil dollars. 2 other people match? You're out well over $100 mill.

      Anyone want to take that chance?

      March 28, 2012 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Vernah Petersen

    There 42 States are combine all together the big "pots".. It is good to see, hear if the people who run the gaming lottery, should also, considered to split this big, huge jackpot into five different States, because it is not fair for the participants who wish to be "millionaire " in one shot. I am a firm believer in sharing the big bucks, rather splitting into two category (States). Like, Louise White in Rhode Island, who only got by herself (was not fair) at all, in fact while (she) claimed a winner I was two numbers correct. But I was not happy, impress how this processing game run their business.. But try, others also to win, not just one person...UNFAIR to the players....That's all....I hope this message will be forwarded...

    March 28, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • mb2010a

      If you don't like the rules, don't play...your choice. But you can't win if you don't play...

      March 28, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      This reply would have been forwarded to someone important if it made any sense. Were you drunk when you wrote it or is you and grammar no good together?

      March 28, 2012 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • jordan

      What in gods name is this supposed to say?

      March 28, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chae

      What? You're saying that a game that offers 1 in 176 million chance is somehow... unfair? Mind boggles.

      March 28, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • dminter

      I dont understand why people take the cash out, if you figure taxes at 50% you would loose 16 million by taking the
      cash out.

      March 28, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matthew

      What? Try making sense.

      March 28, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • fortworthsteeler

      Chris, that is funny very

      March 28, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • fortworthsteeler

      wha wha what you said!?

      March 28, 2012 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • fortworthsteeler

      i particpated inna drawing group once, thems persons were crazy, they drew 6 people name and had seven winners, 1 gat first prize and 6 gat last prizes with the winner gatting the first prizes

      March 28, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • denvergirl80134

      Is English your first language? I have no idea what you said.

      March 28, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Derp derp da derpy derp derp a der

      I hope it doesn't because you are straight up dumb. What are you babbling about?

      March 28, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  3. lee

    if this wasnt so seious, it would be funny!!!

    March 28, 2012 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
  4. jeanne

    hope i win so i can buy a gallon of gas, then i would start my own company making hoodies because they are all the rage now......and ski masks too....oh, and i need a gun also......then give the rest to potus so he can find his son....

    March 28, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Give it up

      Shut up....not everything relates to the Martin case!!!! Go away!!!

      March 28, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • JT Hawaii

      You are shameless and pathetic.

      March 28, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mayhart

      LOL well said

      March 28, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Geo

      That was original and insightful. Thank you.

      March 28, 2012 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brown

      Your comment is proof that you are RACIST as HELL!!!!!!!!!!!!

      March 28, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  5. NN

    Ok, great- a half billion swindled from the down and out to give to some other low life...

    March 28, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • mb2010a

      Trust me, it's not just the down and out who are playing...I have a friend, a football player, who spends $30,000 a week when the pot gets this big. He has won twice...several million each time.

      March 28, 2012 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |

      You mad?

      March 28, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Siege

      No one is getting swindled and no one is being forced to buy a ticket.

      March 28, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
  6. mietoo sents

    It could be under"ware" for all you spelling monitors.

    March 28, 2012 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
  7. JOsh

    i wanna win....i would go to work for just 1 more day!!

    March 28, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
  8. MIKE

    HERES a idea how bout the goverment allow no taxes on the winnings at all.
    and on top of that how bout the reporter actually do something like post what it would be after taxes......
    nice chunk of change but lazy reporting...

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

      That calculation is simple...the smartest payout would be the annuity over 26 years. You would take the $500,000,000 divided by 26 and you come up with about $19,200,000. You would then take that number and multiply it by 25% (that's how much the federal government will take). Take the sum of that and subtract it from the $19,200,000 and you come up with about $14,400,000. If you take the annuity, you'll receive around $14,400,000 every year for 26 years; which will add up to about $375,000,000. If you take the lump sum, it's automatically reduced to about $359,000,000 and then you would multiply that by the 25% federal tax amount. After that calculation, you'll end up with about $269,250,000 for a lump sum payment. I know not everyone has 26 years left to live but that's over a $100,000,000 difference.

      March 28, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    Anybody reading this comment who has a Mega Millions ticket will lose and NOT win $500,000,000. Thats a statistical fact.
    If perchance you do, I'll buy you a free coffee while you decide where you will squander it... 😉

    March 28, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Farmer Dave

    It's a tax for people who are bad at math.

    That said, I'll probably buy a couple tickets this week.;-)

    March 28, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  11. us1776

    Cannot even buy a MegaMillions ticket in Florida.

    Florida sucks.


    March 28, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
  12. SpiderCNN

    just thinking of the number of zero's in that number makes me smile!!! 🙂
    500 000 000

    March 28, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
  13. KT

    I have always said, "If I were that lucky I wouldn't need to play the lottery at all." So really there isn't any point in playing. I could have spent my hard earned money on something else rather than a 176 million to one shot...

    March 28, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    The lottery is gambling. It's a false sense of security for the poor. It always has.

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

    Who is working on the problem of voter suppression in Florida? I recently heard about the voter registration laws in Florida that is apparently suppressing voter elgibility. We all remember the Bush/Gore election, and how that turned out. Are we to go through another election where the Tea Party/Conservatives attempt to gain control by rigging the election?

    March 28, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
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