A record-smashing Mega Millions prize could be awaiting a lucky winner when the multi-state lottery and Powerball kick off a two-day, $1 billion jackpot grab Tuesday night.
The Mega Millions jackpot is currently $654 million, just $2 million short of the multi-state lottery game's record. Powerball's jackpot also represents: There is a top prize of at least $345 million on Wednesday. Both totals are expected to rise.
The bloated payouts are a function of a jackpot drought. Mega Millions last saw a jackpot winner on July 24 when 11 California co-workers shared a cool $543 million — the largest prize ever won on a single Mega Millions ticket.
More than two months ago Powerball hit for the last time when New Yorker Nandlall Mangal was the sole winner of $245.6 million, lottery officials said.
"It's so exciting for our players, and all of us, to see the Mega Millions jackpot getting so close to an all-time record level," said Gordon Medenica, Lead Director of the Mega Millions Consortium and Director of Maryland Lottery and Gaming. "With a little luck, we may still break that record."
If you want all the Mega Millions money up front, the payout on $654 million is a lower but still-impressive $372 million. You can cash out Powerball's $345 million jackpot for $199 million.
You can see the after-tax annuity and cash value amounts on USA Mega's Mega Millions Jackpot Analysis and Powerball Jackpot Analysis. USA Mega (www.usamega.com) is a popular website devoted to the United States' two biggest multi-state games, Powerball and Mega Millions.
And if you prefer math to luck, here is an eye-opening disclaimer: The odds of winning the Mega Millions jackpot are 302,575,350 to 1. The odds of hitting the Powerball jackpot are 292,201,388 to 1. So don't quit your day job just yet.
The Mega Millions record prize of $656 million goes back to March 30, 2012, when winners from Illinois, Kansas, and Maryland split the cash three ways.
And Friday's Mega Millions wasn't a complete bust. There were 2,651,183 "winning" tickets at all prize levels in the Oct. 12 drawing. One ticket, sold in Arkansas, matched the five white balls Friday night to win the game's second prize that, because of a multiplier, cashed in for $3 million.
Fifty-five tickets matched four white balls plus the Mega Ball for the $10,000 third prize; seven of those are actually worth $30,000 each because they included the multiplier.
Three other Mega Millions jackpots have been won this year: $451 million on Jan. 5 (Florida), $533 million on March 30 (New Jersey) and $142 million on May 4 (Ohio).
Last week, Powerball suffered a minor setback when the drawing was moved from Tallahassee, Florida, to Urbandale, Iowa, because of evacuations from Hurricane Michael.
Mega Millions is played in 44 states, Washington D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Powerball reaches all those areas plus Puerto Rico. The big jackpots could mean lines at some ticket locations as the drawings near.