By Todd Northrop
Lottery players across the United States are buying their Mega Millions tickets in preparation for Friday's massive $173 million drawing, after nobody won Tuesday's $160 million jackpot.
The cash value stands at a staggering $119.3 million. Lottery players typically think of the cash value as roughly half of the annuity estimate, but this Mega Millions cash value represents nearly 70% of the annuity estimate.
Friday's Mega Millions jackpot is the accumulation of 17 consecutive drawings without a top prize winner. The current jackpot run-up started on July 30 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 this past Tuesday night, there was no jackpot winner, but 6 lucky players matched the first 5 numbers for a $250,000 prize: 1 from California, 1 from Florida, 1 from Georgia, 1 from Maryland, 1 from New York, and 1 from Virginia.
The California winner will be awarded a whopping $713,203, since California awards all prizes in 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. Because there was only one second prize-winning ticket, that one ticket will take home the entire pool of money allocated for the second prize category.
Also, a total of 29 tickets matched four of the first five numbers plus the Mega Ball to win a $10,000 prize. Of those tickets, 3 were sold in California, where the prize awarded this drawing is $22,043.
The Mega Millions winning numbers for Tuesday, September 24, 2013, were 4, 11, 32, 39, and 40, with Mega Ball number 33. The Megaplier number was 3.
Following the Tuesday drawing, the Mega Millions annuity jackpot estimate was raised $13 million from its previous amount of $160 million. The cash value was raised by $9.9 million, from its previous amount of $109.4 million.
The next Mega Millions drawing will take place Friday evening at 11:00 pm EDT.
Mega Millions is currently offered for sale in 43 states, plus Washington, D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Major game change coming in October
Following the drawing on October 18, 2013, Mega Millions players will be able to buy tickets for the new Mega Millions game, featuring more "white ball" numbers and fewer Mega Ball numbers, a bigger starting jackpot, easier-to-win lower-tier prizes, and the possibility to win up to $5 million without winning the jackpot.
(See Mega Millions lottery game's redesign aims at bigger jackpots, better overall odds, Lottery Post, July 17, 2013.)
The first drawing to include the new game features will be on Oct. 22, 2013.
Lottery officials expect that the upcoming changes to Mega Millions will result in bigger jackpots that occur more often, without raising ticket prices.
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 that caters to the Unites States's two multi-state lottery games, Powerball and Mega Millions.
The Mega Millions winning numbers will be published at USA Mega Friday night, minutes after the drawing takes place.