By Todd Northrop
Last-minute shoppers can potentially give the gift of a $206 million jackpot this Christmas, because the Mega Millions multi-state lottery game did not produce a winner Friday night.
Lottery players across the United States are buying their Mega Millions tickets in preparation for Tuesday's massive $206 million drawing.
The cash value stands at a staggering $151.9 million. Lottery players typically think of the cash value as roughly half of the annuity estimate, but this Mega Millions cash value represents 73% of the annuity estimate.
Tuesday's Mega Millions jackpot is the accumulation of 15 consecutive drawings without a top prize winner. The current jackpot run-up started on Nov. 4 as a $12 million grand prize.
Players should note that jackpot amounts are conservative estimates provided by the lotteries, and are often somewhat higher by the time the drawing occurs.
In the latest Mega Millions drawing that took place Friday night, there was no jackpot winner, but 31 lucky players matched the first 5 numbers for a $250,000 prize: 5 from California, 1 from Connecticut, 1 from Georgia, 1 from Illinois, 1 from Indiana, 3 from Massachusetts, 3 from New Jersey, 5 from New York, 3 from Ohio, 2 from Tennessee, 3 from Texas, 1 from Virginia, 1 from Washington, and 1 from Wisconsin.
The 5 California winners will each be awarded prizes of $155,663, because California awards all prizes with a pari-mutuel formula, which calculates the prize amount based on the number of tickets sold and the number of winners in each prize category. All the other Mega Millions states award fixed amounts for all non-jackpot prizes.
Following the Friday drawing, the Mega Millions annuity jackpot estimate was raised $33 million from its previous amount of $173 million. The cash value was raised by $22.4 million, from its previous amount of $129.5 million.
The next Mega Millions drawing will take place Tuesday evening at 11:00 pm Eastern Time.
Mega Millions is currently offered for sale in 42 states, plus Washington, D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The latest state to join Mega Millions, Louisiana, became the 42nd Mega Millions state during the current jackpot run-up, on Nov. 16.
For a complete set of game descriptions, results, history, and all questions regarding Mega Millions, lottery players are encouraged to visit USA Mega (www.usamega.com), a Web site devoted to the Unites States's two multi-state lottery games, Powerball and Mega Millions.
The Mega Millions winning number will be published at USA Mega Tuesay night, minutes after the drawing takes place.