By Todd Northrop
As lottery fans have been discussing the revamped Powerball game, the United States's other huge multi-state game, Mega Millions, has been quietly and steadily increasing its jackpot.
Tuesday night we'll find out if the Mega Millions lottery game enters into the realm of $200+ million jackpots, or if an incredibly lucky ticket-holder wins a $171 million jackpot.
The lump-sum cash value stands at a staggering $124.7 million.
Tuesday's Mega Millions jackpot is the accumulation of 13 consecutive drawings without a top prize winner. The current jackpot run-up started on Jan. 27 as a $12 million grand prize — right as the Powerball game was hitting its stride at $170 million, before eventually reaching a staggering $336.4 million that was won on Feb. 11 by a Rhode Island senior. (See Rhode Island woman, 81, claims $336 Million Powerball jackpot, Lottery Post, Mar. 6, 2012.)
Players should note that jackpot amounts are conservative estimates provided by the lotteries, and are often somewhat higher by the time the drawing occurs. Occasionally the official jackpot estimate is raised even before the drawing, due to larger-than-expected sales.
In Friday night's Mega Millions drawing, there was no jackpot winner, but 14 lucky players matched the first 5 numbers for a $250,000 prize: 3 from California, 1 from Colorado, 2 from Georgia, 1 from Maryland, 1 from Michigan, 1 from New Hampshire, 2 from New York, 1 from Pennsylvania, 1 from Rhode Island, and 1 from Virginia.
The three California winners will each be awarded prizes of $206,076, because 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. All the other Mega Millions states award fixed amounts for all non-jackpot prizes.
The Mega Millions winning numbers for Friday, March 9, 2012, were 9, 10, 27, 36, and 42, with Mega Ball number 11. The Megaplier number was 4.
Following the Friday drawing, the Mega Millions annuity jackpot estimate was raised $23 million from its previous amount of $148 million. The cash value was raised by $15.8 million, from its previous amount of $108.9 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 on Nov. 16, 2011.
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 Tuesday night Mega Millions winning numbers will be published at USA Mega minutes after the drawing takes place.