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Mega Millions ponderously reaches $280 million

Mega MillionsMega Millions: Mega Millions ponderously reaches $280 million
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Lottery Post analyzes the multi-state jackpot's slow 3-month ascent

By Todd Northrop

Normally a $280 million jackpot would prompt even lottery skeptics to consider buying a ticket, but for some reason Mega Millions players have been forced to endure tepid sales that are inching the game's jackpot upward at a snail's pace.

So lottery players looking to win a life-changing mega jackpot can be excused for asking the contradictory questions, "What's wrong with Mega Millions?" and, "Where can I buy a ticket?"

To put the current jackpot's gradual increase into perspective, in March of 2012 a Mega Millions jackpot that rolled 18 times set the record for the world's largest lottery jackpot — $656 million, won by three tickets from Illinois, Kansas, and Maryland. And that jackpot roll started at $12 million rather than the current $15 million starting point.

Despite the slowly-growing jackpot, the multi-state game has many loyal fans who play every drawing.

According to Paula Otto, Executive Director of the Virginia Lottery, the state lottery directors guiding the Mega Millions game are satisfied with the game's positioning.

"What our research showed is that players consider the Mega Millions game easier to win and like to have the $1 price point for a jackpot game," Otto said in response to Lottery Post's inquiry. "Rather than try to compete with Powerball (a game with the potential for $1 billion+ jackpots), the Mega Millions directors are comfortable with having a game that complements Powerball."

Mega Millions sales are down 10% to 20%, depending on the size of the jackpot, according to analysis conducted by Alan Hussey, Economic Research Manager for the Virginia Lottery.

"If we look back to a similar run from March 27 to June 2, 2015 we see a jackpot that grew to $260 million in 20 draws. Last night's jackpot of $260 million took 26 draws," Hussey said.

There are a couple of underlying reasons for the slower-than-normal jackpot increases.

Otto postulates that the first reason is a general lottery industry concept: when one game is thriving or has a huge jackpot, the other one often suffers a bit.

"This is an expected phenomenon, and is why having both Powerball and Mega Millions available to players in all lottery states is good for players and for the beneficiaries of state lotteries," Otto explained.

The second reason is a little more technical, and has to do with the current interest rates that determine the value of the annuity jackpot estimate.

"Today's low interest rates are not helping," Hussey concluded. "In last year's roll, every dollar in the jackpot pool was being multiplied by 1.64 to be converted into the advertised annuity.... In that June 2, 2015 draw, it took $159.9 million of cash for us to support a jackpot of $262.2 million.

"Last night, we had to have $174.2 million of cash on hand to support an advertised jackpot of $261.4 million. In other words, a dollar in hand is only worth $1.50 (vs. $1.64 a year ago) over the 30 payments."

This "double whammy" of Powerball's comparative success, plus today's lower interest rates, "are combining to noticeably slow down the time it takes for the jackpot to grow," Hussey said.

Despite the slow jackpot rise, the current Mega Millions jackpot represents a great lottery buy for players and non-players alike.  Although the annuity estimate of $280 million is only #33 on the all-time list of US annuity jackpots, the cash value of $186.5 million is the 23rd-largest cash value in history. (See the complete top-25 jackpot cash value list below.)

Although the odds of winning the Mega Millions jackpot are a steep 1 in 258,890,850, they are still better than the 1 in 292,201,338 odds of winning Powerball, at half the cost. Buying 2 Mega Millions tickets (the equivalent cost of buying 1 Powerball ticket) would provide odds of 1 in 129.5 million in comparison to the 1 in 292.2 million odds of winning Powerball.

Another factor in Mega Millions' favor is that by purchasing the Megaplier option for an extra $1 per play, the second prize can increase to as much as $5 million, as opposed to Powerball's Power Play option, which increases the second prize to a capped $2 million.

The Megaplier option is available in all jurisdictions except California, where the fixed nature of the prize increase offered with the Megaplier is not compatible with California's pari-mutuel payouts. By law, California awards all prizes on a pari-mutuel basis, meaning the prizes will change each drawing based on the number of tickets sold and the number of tickets that won at each prize level.

Mega Millions is currently offered for sale in 44 states, plus Washington, D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Drawings are Tuesdays and Fridays at 11:00 pm Eastern Time. Tickets cost $1 each.

The Mega Millions winning numbers are published at USA Mega (www.usamega.com) minutes after the drawing takes place.

Will you be playing Mega Millions in the Friday drawing? Sound off in the comments section below!

Top 25 United States cash value jackpots of all time

Friday's Mega Millions jackpot currently stands as the 23rd-largest lottery cash value jackpot of all time in the United States. Since many lottery winners collect their winnings in cash, the lump-sum payout is an important measure of what a winning ticket could be worth.

  1. Powerball: $983.5 million cash, Jan. 13, 2016 ($1.5864 billion annuity) - California, Florida, Tennessee
  2. Mega Millions: $471 million cash, Mar. 30, 2012 ($656 million annuity) - Illinois, Kansas, Maryland
  3. Powerball: $384.7 million cash, Nov. 28, 2012 ($587.5 million annuity) - Arizona, Missouri
  4. Powerball: $381.1 million cash, Feb. 7, 2015 ($564.1 million annuity) - North Carolina, Puerto Rico, Texas
  5. Powerball: $370.9 million cash, May 18, 2013 ($590.5 million annuity) - Florida
  6. Mega Millions: $347.6 million cash, Dec. 17, 2013 ($636 million annuity) - California, Georgia
  7. Powerball: $284 million cash, May 7, 2016 ($429.6 million annuity) - New Jersey
  8. Powerball: $258.2 million cash, Aug. 7, 2013 ($448.4 million annuity) - Minnesota, New Jersey (2)
  9. Mega Millions: $240 million cash, Jan. 4, 2011 ($380 million annuity) - Idaho, Washington
  10. Mega Millions: $233.1 million cash, Mar. 6, 2007 ($390 million annuity) - Georgia, New Jersey
  11. Mega Millions: $230.9 million cash, Mar. 18, 2014 ($414 million annuity) - Florida, Maryland
  12. Powerball: $227.8 million cash, Feb. 19, 2014 ($425.3 million annuity) - California
  13. Powerball: $224.7 million cash, Aug. 15, 2012 ($337 million annuity) - Michigan
  14. Powerball: $223.3 million cash, Sep. 18, 2013 ($399.4 million annuity) - South Carolina
  15. Mega Millions: $214 million cash, Aug. 28, 2009 ($336 million annuity) - California, New York
  16. Powerball: $211 million cash, Mar. 23, 2013 ($338.3 million annuity) - New Jersey
  17. Powerball: $210 million cash, Feb. 11, 2012 ($336.4 million annuity) - Rhode Island
  18. Mega Millions: $202.9 million cash, Mar. 25, 2011 ($319 million annuity) - New York
  19. Mega Millions: $197.5 million cash, Nov. 4, 2014 ($321 million annuity) - New York
  20. Powerball: $197.4 million cash, Sep. 30, 2015 ($310.5 million annuity) - Michigan
  21. Mega Millions: $194.4 million cash, Aug. 31, 2007 ($330 million annuity) - Maryland, New Jersey, Texas, Virginia
  22. Powerball: $191.9 million cash, Mar. 2, 2016 ($291.4 million annuity) - Florida
  23. Mega Millions: $186.5 million cash, Jun. 10, 2016 ($280 million annuity) - Preliminary estimate, not won yet
  24. Mega Millions: $185 million cash, Nov. 15, 2005 ($315 million annuity) - California
  25. The Big Game: $180 million cash, May 9, 2000 ($363 million annuity) - Illinois, Michigan

The number of cash value jackpots in the top 25, by lottery game, are:

  • Powerball: 13
  • Mega Millions: 11
  • The Big Game: 1

The Big Game is the original name of Mega Millions, from the game's first drawing on Sep. 6, 1996 through May 14, 2002. The name was changed to Mega Millions starting with the May 17, 2002 drawing.

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65 comments. Last comment 6 months ago by music*.
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rcbbuckeye's avatar - Lottery-043.jpg
Texas
United States
Member #55889
October 23, 2007
5604 Posts
Offline
Posted: June 8, 2016, 11:28 am - IP Logged

One tic with megaplier every draw.

Second prize works just fine for me.

CAN'T WIN IF YOU'RE NOT IN

A DOLLAR AND A DREAM (OR $2)

    Raven62's avatar - binary
    New Jersey
    United States
    Member #17843
    June 28, 2005
    49784 Posts
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    Posted: June 8, 2016, 11:57 am - IP Logged

    The jump in the next Jackpot is getting larger in expectation of a Betting Frenzy!

    A mind once stretched by a new idea never returns to its original dimensions!

      Avatar
      Presque Isle, ME
      United States
      Member #149019
      November 17, 2013
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      Posted: June 8, 2016, 12:17 pm - IP Logged

      Does buying 2 megamillions tickets really cut the odds in half to 1 in 129 million? That doesn't seem correct. Buying 2 tickets only takes 2 combinations out of the pool

        Avatar
        South Carolina
        United States
        Member #18322
        July 9, 2005
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        Posted: June 8, 2016, 12:28 pm - IP Logged

        Ponderously - New Vocabulary Word for Me.  Let me educate myself.

        Just making sure that I understand the word ponderously correctly, as it pertains to the lottery:

        From Webster's online Dictionary:

        Full Definition of ponderous

        1. 1 :  of very great weight

        2. 2 :  unwieldy or clumsy because of weight and size

        3. 3 :  oppressively or unpleasantly dull :  lifeless <ponderous prose>

        ponderously adverb
        ponderousness noun
        "There are a couple of underlying reasons for the slower-than-normal jackpot increases." 
        In this Context, It Means Slow Grow !!! 
        $280 Million and Rising:  The Jackpot is growing slowly, apparently too slowly for some people.    Roll Eyes  Seriously !!?? 
        Why is Slow Growth in a Multi-Million Dollar Jackpot such an issue to people ???
          Todd's avatar - Cylon 2.gif
          Chief Bottle Washer
          New Jersey
          United States
          Member #1
          May 31, 2000
          23273 Posts
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          Posted: June 8, 2016, 12:37 pm - IP Logged

          Does buying 2 megamillions tickets really cut the odds in half to 1 in 129 million? That doesn't seem correct. Buying 2 tickets only takes 2 combinations out of the pool

          It is correct.

           

          Check the State Lottery Report Card
          What grade did your lottery earn?

           

          Sign the Petition for True Lottery Drawings
          Help eliminate computerized drawings!

            Todd's avatar - Cylon 2.gif
            Chief Bottle Washer
            New Jersey
            United States
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            May 31, 2000
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            Posted: June 8, 2016, 12:44 pm - IP Logged

            Ponderously - New Vocabulary Word for Me.  Let me educate myself.

            Just making sure that I understand the word ponderously correctly, as it pertains to the lottery:

            From Webster's online Dictionary:

            Full Definition of ponderous

            1. 1 :  of very great weight

            2. 2 :  unwieldy or clumsy because of weight and size

            3. 3 :  oppressively or unpleasantly dull :  lifeless <ponderous prose>

            ponderously adverb
            ponderousness noun
            "There are a couple of underlying reasons for the slower-than-normal jackpot increases." 
            In this Context, It Means Slow Grow !!! 
            $280 Million and Rising:  The Jackpot is growing slowly, apparently too slowly for some people.    Roll Eyes  Seriously !!?? 
            Why is Slow Growth in a Multi-Million Dollar Jackpot such an issue to people ???

            Yes, "ponderous" is of very great weight, but ponderously, as an adverb, is to act in a heavy ponderous manner.  Which is the action of the current jackpot ascent.

            Yes also to the question of whether or not people care.  A fast-growing jackpot gains great attention and excitement, whereas a slow-moving jackpot tends to be overlooked by the masses — which itself maintains the slow pace of growth.

             

            Check the State Lottery Report Card
            What grade did your lottery earn?

             

            Sign the Petition for True Lottery Drawings
            Help eliminate computerized drawings!


              United States
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              January 23, 2016
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              Posted: June 8, 2016, 12:50 pm - IP Logged

              Mega Millions Drawing in YouTube is unclear and seems rigged while Powerball drawing is clear

                Avatar
                South Carolina
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                July 9, 2005
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                Posted: June 8, 2016, 1:00 pm - IP Logged

                Yes, "ponderous" is of very great weight, but ponderously, as an adverb, is to act in a heavy ponderous manner.  Which is the action of the current jackpot ascent.

                Yes also to the question of whether or not people care.  A fast-growing jackpot gains great attention and excitement, whereas a slow-moving jackpot tends to be overlooked by the masses — which itself maintains the slow pace of growth.

                "Excitement" - Agreed.  However, I was thinking that it may also be an underlying issue of GREED !!!  Dead  People simply want to win MORE MONEY, as Much Money as possible !!!

                Why can't people be Appreciative and Happy Enough with Small Jackpots ???  Yes Nod

                The Divine Lesson to learn  is GRATITUDE !!! Even for "Small Jackpots" of  $40 Million + !!! Blue Angel   Feel - Thank You Divinity !!!

                  Drenick1's avatar - villiarna
                  USA
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                  February 25, 2014
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                  Posted: June 8, 2016, 1:48 pm - IP Logged

                  Todd, It was probably just a typo but the $656 million MM jackpot from March 2012 only rolled over 18 times and not 26. You do bring up a very valid point that it's taking considerably more draws to reach frenzy size jackpots.

                    Todd's avatar - Cylon 2.gif
                    Chief Bottle Washer
                    New Jersey
                    United States
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                    Posted: June 8, 2016, 1:58 pm - IP Logged

                    Todd, It was probably just a typo but the $656 million MM jackpot from March 2012 only rolled over 18 times and not 26. You do bring up a very valid point that it's taking considerably more draws to reach frenzy size jackpots.

                    Great catch!  I have fixed the error, thanks.

                     

                    Check the State Lottery Report Card
                    What grade did your lottery earn?

                     

                    Sign the Petition for True Lottery Drawings
                    Help eliminate computerized drawings!

                      noise-gate's avatar - images q=tbn:ANd9GcR91HDs4UJhjxO7cmeMQWZ5lB_FOcMLOGicau4V74R45tDgPWrr
                      Bay Area - California
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                      December 12, 2012
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                      Posted: June 8, 2016, 2:30 pm - IP Logged

                      Ponderously - New Vocabulary Word for Me.  Let me educate myself.

                      Just making sure that I understand the word ponderously correctly, as it pertains to the lottery:

                      From Webster's online Dictionary:

                      Full Definition of ponderous

                      1. 1 :  of very great weight

                      2. 2 :  unwieldy or clumsy because of weight and size

                      3. 3 :  oppressively or unpleasantly dull :  lifeless <ponderous prose>

                      ponderously adverb
                      ponderousness noun
                      "There are a couple of underlying reasons for the slower-than-normal jackpot increases." 
                      In this Context, It Means Slow Grow !!! 
                      $280 Million and Rising:  The Jackpot is growing slowly, apparently too slowly for some people.    Roll Eyes  Seriously !!?? 
                      Why is Slow Growth in a Multi-Million Dollar Jackpot such an issue to people ???

                      DC- the word "ponderously" is almost always associated with the way Elephants walk, just to give you a word picture.

                      People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it- George Bernard Shaw.

                        noise-gate's avatar - images q=tbn:ANd9GcR91HDs4UJhjxO7cmeMQWZ5lB_FOcMLOGicau4V74R45tDgPWrr
                        Bay Area - California
                        United States
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                        December 12, 2012
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                        Posted: June 8, 2016, 2:41 pm - IP Logged

                        Anyways- l want this ponderous jackpot to take it's sweet time between now & Friday before coming to rest in California, preferably in my bank account Big Smile

                        People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it- George Bernard Shaw.


                          United States
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                          Posted: June 8, 2016, 2:53 pm - IP Logged

                          "Can't win" is so strong with this run that I can see it rolling to over $2 billion and becoming the largest JP of all time.

                            Think's avatar - lightbulb
                            Marquette, MI
                            United States
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                            August 20, 2005
                            705 Posts
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                            Posted: June 8, 2016, 3:09 pm - IP Logged

                            One tic with megaplier every draw.

                            Second prize works just fine for me.

                            Yep, second prize is why I like MM over PB that and the odds on MM are slightly better.

                            Also, three tickets within 100 miles of me have won second prize while two tickets have taken the jackpot.

                            There haven't been any such winners on PB like that around here.

                            "The American Voter is too Stupid..."   Jonathan Gruber Obamacare Architect

                            "There is no sin except stupidity" Oscar Wilde

                            https://books.google.com/books?id=apm21IcqhmcC&pg=PP6&lpg=PP6&dq=americans+can+tolerate+just+about+anything+except+stupidity&source=bl&ots=tq9QUeP46j&sig=qXfXEz-wh_yUQSsE8DZG0ZjABls&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwil8YSjmuDPAhWF7IMKHV11A0kQ6AEIUzAI#v=onepage&q=americans%20can%20tolerate%20just%20about%20anything%20except%20stupidity&f=false