The Mega Millions jackpot has reached historic proportions. With no jackpot winner in Tuesday’s drawing, the jackpot for March 30, 2012 is now an estimated $640 million. This is the largest lottery jackpot in world history, surpassing the previous record of $390 million.
If one ticket matches all six numbers for the half-billion dollar mega-jackpot, the winner would have the choice of receiving the full jackpot in 26 annual payments of about $20.7 million, or a cash option of approximately $389.8 million.
“Friday night’s Mega Millions drawing will truly be a spectacular event in lottery history and provides an unprecedented opportunity for players to take a chance on a half-billion dollar dream for just the $1 price of a ticket,” said Gary Grief, executive director of the Texas Lottery and lead director for the Mega Millions group.
More than 4.7 million tickets won prizes in Tuesday’s drawing, including four tickets that each won $1 million and 43 tickets that each won $250,000.
The jackpot for the March 30 drawing was originally estimated at $476 million, but with stronger than anticipated sales nationwide, it became clear that the jackpot for Friday’s drawing would be much larger. The high sales figures mean more than just a mega-jackpot amount; they mean greater profits to benefit each state in which Mega Millions is played. Each participating state’s legislature determines how its Mega Millions profits are allocated. In many states, profits are earmarked for education. The beneficiaries in other states include parks, natural resources, property tax relief, programs to help the elderly and several other important causes.
This jackpot has been growing since January 24, when Mega Millions had its most recent jackpot winner. The jackpot has now rolled 18 times without a winner. The odds of winning the jackpot are approximately one in 176 million. The odds of winning any of the Mega Millions prizes are approximately 1 in 40.
Mega Millions is played in 44 jurisdictions (42 states plus the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands). Drawings are held Tuesdays and Fridays at 11:00 p.m. Eastern Time; 10:00 p.m. Central Time; 9:00 p.m. Mountain Time and 8:00 p.m. Pacific Time.