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$500 MILLION: Mega Millions sets all-time lottery jackpot record

Mar 28, 2012, 1:12 am

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Mega MillionsMega Millions: $500 MILLION: Mega Millions sets all-time lottery jackpot recordRating:

Friday Mega Millions jackpot rewrites the record books as the largest lottery prize the world has ever seen

UPDATED 11:50 am:  Jackpot revised to $500 million ($359.4 million cash)

By Todd Northrop

There will be a lot of daydreaming going on this week around America.

Dreaming about what it would be like to win a half-billion dollars.

That's because Tuesday's Mega Millions drawing did not produce a winner, sending the game into uncharted territory.  The new jackpot for Friday, March 30, 2012 — $476 million $500 million — has officially broken the record for the largest lottery jackpot ever offered worldwide.

And if past ticket sales are any indication of what will happen this week, the jackpot may get bigger — much bigger — by the time the drawing kicks off.

Doubtless, there will be a rush of media pundits clamoring to cite the tiny chance each player has of winning.  There will probably be a thousand different analogies designed to explain how small the chances are.  Maybe someone will compare it to the odds of getting hit by lightning while at the same time being eaten by a shark.

But no matter how hard they try to convince people to resist the urge to play, the pundits are up against a simple fact: there is enough money at stake to make even the most pessimistic person fork over a buck or two at the lottery ticket counter this week.

To get an idea of how many tickets are being sold, the Mega Millions jackpot estimate was raised a staggering $137 million in just one drawing.  It normally takes at least 9 consecutive drawings to raise the jackpot by that amount.

Likewise, the lump-sum cash option of Friday's jackpot is $341.4 million $359.4 million — an increase of $99.6 million from Tuesday.  Unimaginable.

Lotteries are typically conservative when estimating jackpots, to ensure that the actual jackpot amount is not less than the estimate.  Often the jackpot is much higher than the estimate by the time all ticket sales are accounted for.

In the case of a world-record lottery jackpot, it's anyone's guess how much higher it will go.

Friday's world-record Mega Millions jackpot is the result of an unprecedented 18 consecutive drawings without a top-prize winner.  The jackpot started off as a $12 million grand prize on January 27th, and has continued to be drawn without a winner for two months.

Despite the lack of a jackpot winner, some people are pretty happy with the Tuesday drawing.  Although nobody won the top prize Tuesday night, 47 lucky players matched the first 5 numbers for a $250,000 prize: 9 from California, 1 from Colorado, 2 from Illinois, 2 from Maryland, 2 from Michigan, 1 from Missouri, 1 from Montana, 2 from New Jersey, 11 from New York, 2 from North Carolina, 2 from Ohio, 2 from Pennsylvania, 1 from South Carolina, 2 from Texas, 1 from Vermont, 1 from Virginia, 3 from Washington, 1 from Washington, D.C., and 1 from West Virginia.

The 9 California winners will each be awarded prizes of $308,573, 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.

Lottery players seeking to check the winning numbers Friday night are urged to use USA Mega (www.usamega.com). State lottery Web sites are normally brought to a standstill during busy periods, while USA Mega normally remains responsive.

USA Mega also offers a feature to show what the after-tax winnings would be in each individual state.  That information can be found on the Mega Millions Jackpot Analysis page.

Mega Millions drawing results will be posted Friday immediately after the 11:00 pm Eastern Time (8:00 pm Pacific Time) drawing at USA Mega. The number of winners and new jackpot will be announced after all participating Mega Millions states have reported their data, which normally occurs within a couple of hours after the drawing.

Players are advised not to wait until the last minute to buy their lottery tickets.  Sales typically remain open until around 10:45 pm Eastern Time on Friday, although players should check with a lottery retailer in their state for the exact sales cutoff time. 

The odds of winning the jackpot are approximately 1 in 176 million. The odds of winning any of the Mega Millions prizes are approximately 1 in 40.

Mega Millions features nine different prize levels, ranging from $2 all the way up to the jackpot. Players can win even if they just match one number — the Mega Ball number.

Mega Millions tickets can be purchased in 42 states, plus Washington, D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  For a list of states offering the game, see Where To Play Mega Millions at USA Mega.

All Mega Millions states except California also offer the Megaplier option for an extra dollar per ticket purchased. The Megaplier multiplies any non-jackpot prizes won by 2, 3, or 4 times, depending on the Megaplier number drawn that evening.

Players who purchase the Megaplier and win second prize will automatically have their prize increased by 4x to $1 million.

Top 25 Lottery Jackpots

The initial estimate for Friday's Mega Millions jackpot is $110 million higher than the previous record jackpot.  And it probably will be even more by the time the drawing occurs.

To see the record jackpot this Friday in relation to all the previous record-holders, check out the following list.

  1. Mega Millions: $500 million, Mar. 30, 2012 (preliminary estimate, not won yet)
  2. Mega Millions: $390 million, Mar. 6, 2007 - Georgia, New Jersey
  3. Mega Millions: $380 million, Jan. 4, 2011 - Idaho, Washington
  4. Powerball: $365 million, Feb. 18, 2006 - Nebraska
  5. The Big Game: $363 million, May 9, 2000 - Illinois, Michigan
  6. Powerball: $340 million, Oct. 19, 2005 - Oregon
  7. Powerball: $336.4 million, Feb. 11, 2012 - Rhode Island
  8. Mega Millions: $336 million, Aug. 28, 2009 - California, New York
  9. The Big Game: $331 million, Apr. 16, 2002 - Georgia, Illinois, New Jersey
  10. Mega Millions: $330 million, Aug. 31, 2007 - Maryland, New Jersey, Texas, Virginia
  11. Mega Millions: $319 million, Mar. 25, 2011 - New York
  12. Mega Millions: $315 million, Nov. 15, 2005 - California
  13. Powerball: $314.9 million, Dec. 26, 2002 - West Virgina
  14. Powerball: $314.3 million, Aug. 25, 2007 - Indiana
  15. Powerball: $295.7 million, Jul. 29, 1998 - Indiana
  16. Powerball: $295 million, Aug. 25, 2001 - Delaware, Kentucky, Minnesota, New Hampshire
  17. Mega Millions: $294 million, Jul. 2, 2004 - Massachusetts
  18. Powerball: $276.3 million, Mar. 15, 2008 - West Virgina
  19. Mega Millions: $275 million, Feb. 22, 2008 - Georgia
  20. Mega Millions: $270 million, Feb. 28, 2006 - Ohio
  21. Mega Millions: $266 million, May 4, 2010 - California
  22. Mega Millions: $265 million, Apr. 18, 2006 - Ohio
  23. Powerball: $261.6 million, Jun. 2, 2010 - Ohio
  24. Powerball: $261.3 million, Jul. 9, 2003 - Missouri, Pennsylvania
  25. Powerball: $259.9 million, Aug. 19, 2009 - South Carolina
  26. Powerball: $258.5 million, Apr. 21, 2010 - Missouri
  27. Mega Millions: $258 million, Sept. 16, 2005 - New Jersey

Top 20 cash value jackpots

It also goes without saying that Friday's Mega Millions jackpot also holds the record for the largest cash value ever.  Friday's jackpot is worth over $100 million more in cash than the previous record-holder.

Here's the top 20 cash values of all time.

  1. Mega Millions: $359.4 million cash, Mar. 30, 2012 ($500 million annuity) - preliminary estimate, not won yet
  2. Mega Millions: $240 million cash, Jan. 4, 2011 ($380 million annuity) - Idaho, Washington
  3. Mega Millions: $233.1 million cash, Mar. 6, 2007 ($390 million annuity) - Georgia, New Jersey
  4. Mega Millions: $214 million cash, Aug. 28, 2009 ($336 million annuity) - California, New York
  5. Powerball: $210 million cash, Feb. 11, 2012 ($336.4 million annuity) - Rhode Island
  6. Mega Millions: $202.9 million cash, Mar. 25, 2011 ($319 million annuity) - New York
  7. Mega Millions: $194.4. million cash, Aug. 31, 2007 ($330 million annuity) - Maryland, New Jersey, Texas, Virginia
  8. Mega Millions: $185 million cash, Nov. 15, 2005 ($315 million annuity) - California
  9. The Big Game: $180 million cash, May 9, 2000 ($363 million annuity) - Illinois, Michigan
  10. Powerball: $177.3 million cash, Feb. 18, 2006 ($365 million annuity) - Nebraska
  11. Mega Millions: $168 million cash, July 2, 2004 ($294 million annuity) - Massachusetts
  12. Mega Millions: $167.7 million cash, Feb. 22, 2008 ($275 million annuity) - Georgia
  13. Powerball: $166 million cash, Aug. 25, 2001 ($295 million annuity) - Delaware, Kentucky, Minnesota, New Hampshire
  14. Mega Millions: $165.2 million cash, May 4, 2010 ($266 million annuity) - California
  15. Powerball: $164.4 million cash, won Oct. 19, 2005 ($340 million annuity) - Oregon
  16. Mega Millions: $164 million cash, Feb. 28, 2006 ($270 million annuity) - Ohio
  17. Powerball: $161.5 million cash, July 29, 1998 ($295.7 million annuity) - Indiana
  18. Mega Millions: $156.1 million cash, Sept. 16, 2005 ($258 million annuity) - New Jersey
  19. Mega Millions: $153.3 million cash, Dec. 27, 2011 ($208 million annuity) - New York
  20. Powerball: $151.7 million cash, Nov. 2, 2011 ($254.2 million annuity) - Connecticut

The typical advice would be, "Don't buy too many lottery tickets," but this author has a feeling that sentiment will fall on deaf ears this time.

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749 comments. Last comment 10 years ago by haymaker.
Page 1 of 50
United States
Member #125213
March 27, 2012
79 Posts

I called it!!! Oh my god. Take that Powerball! MegaMillions for the win!!

    diamondpalace's avatar - Untitled 2.jpg

    United States
    Member #60282
    April 12, 2008
    3857 Posts

    Powerball is out of the spot light for awhile. Let's go MM!


      United States
      Member #63692
      August 5, 2008
      35 Posts

      wow this is unreal

        joshuacloak's avatar - mask

        United States
        Member #32536
        February 12, 2006
        711 Posts

        in other news, ever state lottery CEO, will be having a party of smiles, their profits are going up this month :D 

        also i bet floridia lottery staff are kicking them self's for not joining MM when they had the chance, 


        man, the media will be all over this ,and if only 1 ticket wins,and they go public, god help their soul


        man it just feels so unreal.

        One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor.

          Ypsilanti, MI
          United States
          Member #15733
          May 20, 2005
          217 Posts

          Ummm, Todd??

          March 30th is a FRIDAY, not Tuesday... LOL :)

          EDIT - Fixed! Thanks Todd!!

            Arrowhead's avatar - underground
            United States
            Member #120748
            December 27, 2011
            294 Posts

            Todd---totally understandable in the excitement---but in your story you have Tuesday March 30, 2012. Obviously it's Friday. Just a heads-up.

            This is incredible.

              Halle99's avatar - Lottery-043.jpg
              United States
              United States
              Member #68250
              December 16, 2008
              168 Posts

              OMG......This is my year and I have this one.  $476mil plus wow!...I am speechless.Party

              "Wait eagerly for the Lord, and keep to the way; God wil raise you to possess the land; you will gloat when the wicked are cut off".

                                                                                            Psalms 37:34

                barbos's avatar - gold bar-and-cash1.jpg
                United States
                Member #23907
                October 17, 2005
                122 Posts

                    Gotta go to sleep, tomorrow will have to stand in a long line. Good luck everybody!

                  Todd's avatar - Cylon 200.jpg
                  Chief Bottle Washer
                  New Jersey
                  United States
                  Member #1
                  May 31, 2000
                  26748 Posts

                  The story is corrected for one Tuesday/Friday mix-up.

                  Hey, I got the story out at 1:12 am Eastern Time, before even the AP reported it.  Maybe forgive a tiny error like Tuesday instead of Friday?


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                    Arrowhead's avatar - underground
                    United States
                    Member #120748
                    December 27, 2011
                    294 Posts

                    The story is corrected for one Tuesday/Friday mix-up.

                    Hey, I got the story out at 1:12 am Eastern Time, before even the AP reported it.  Maybe forgive a tiny error like Tuesday instead of Friday?

                    No worries. We just wanted you to know.

                      United States
                      Member #125331
                      March 28, 2012
                      8 Posts

                      ROLL BABY ROLL....im gonna be forking some serious cash out now...and i dont care what anyone says....time to get it

                        United States
                        Member #93499
                        July 1, 2010
                        541 Posts

                        The story is corrected for one Tuesday/Friday mix-up.

                        Hey, I got the story out at 1:12 am Eastern Time, before even the AP reported it.  Maybe forgive a tiny error like Tuesday instead of Friday?

                        Forgiven. This is just exciting as anything! I had a dream I had to wait in line for an hour to get a MM ticket last night maybe I will actually have too now. :p

                          RedStang's avatar - laughing chimp.gif
                          United States
                          Member #121955
                          January 21, 2012
                          3169 Posts

                          All that $$ and i only got 7$ of it. LOL Cheap @$#%^&%$. I think thats all i'll spend fri.

                            United States
                            Member #122685
                            February 6, 2012
                            368 Posts

                            Over at the Powerball HQ they must be hating the crap out of the MegaMillions right now. So far their plans must not be going well for the last few months. This week is going to suck for them really bad.