UPDATE: World Record Mega Millions Jackpot Raised to $640 Million For Friday
Jackpot Stands At An Estimated $640 Million Annuity, $462 Million Cash Option
DES MOINES, Iowa - The monster jackpot for Friday's Mega Millions drawing, already a world record, has been pushed even higher by strong sales nationwide. Lottery officials announced Friday morning that the jackpot was being raised to an estimated $640 million annuity ($462 million cash) for the drawing at 10 p.m. Friday. That is the largest prize ever offered in any lotto game.
The Mega Millions jackpot was last won in the drawing on Jan. 24, so it has been growing for more than two months, making it through 18 drawings in a row so far without a winner.
The previous record for a lotto jackpot also was in the Mega Millions game. That $390 million prize was split in March 2007 by two tickets purchased in Georgia and New Jersey. The largest Powerball jackpot to date was a $365 million prize won in February 2006 by eight co-workers at a Nebraska meatpacking plant.
How Late Can You Buy A Ticket In Iowa?
You can buy tickets here in Iowa for the drawing until 8:59 p.m. Friday. If you buy a ticket after that, it will be for the next Mega Millions drawing on Tuesday, April 3.
How Do I Play?
The huge jackpot is attracting a lot of first-time players. Here's how to play, if you're just getting in: Mega Millions players choose five numbers from a pool of 56 numbers and another number - the Mega Ball -- from a separate pool of 46. Plays cost $1 and you can choose your own numbers or let the terminal generate a play for you by asking for a quick pick or easy pick.
Players who purchase the Megaplier option for an additional $1 per play can increase their winnings (except for the jackpot) by up to four times the amount.
Drawings are held at 10 p.m. on Tuesdays and Fridays.
What's That We Hear About Coverage?
All of the lotteries across the country that sell Mega Millions tickets are tracking sales, and by looking at the numbers overall, estimates can be made about how many of the possible combinations of numbers in the game will be purchased for a particular drawing. The odds of winning the jackpot in Mega Millions are about 1 in 175.7 million because there are about 175.7 million possible ways you can combine the numbers to make a play.
About 66.3 percent of all the possible combinations were purchased for Tuesday's Mega Millions drawing, and with the high sales over the past few days, it's projected that about 90 percent of all the possible combinations will be covered in Friday's drawing.
So, does that mean there definitely will be a winner? We won't know for sure until the drawing occurs.
And If You Win
The Iowa Lottery offers these reminders to keep your ticket safe, both while you wait for the drawing and afterward:
1.Sign your ticket when you buy it. That identifies it as belonging to you. If you win, you might want to make a photocopy of it and keep the original in a safe or safety deposit box. At the very least, keep it somewhere you know it will be protected.
2.Winning a jackpot of this size would be a life-changing experience. Contact a lawyer or financial planner who can help you make the right choices for you with the money. One of your first decisions would be whether to receive the jackpot in 26 annual annuitized payments or in a one-time, lump-sum cash payment.
3.If you win, you might want to consider getting an unlisted telephone number.
4.And finally, after you have collected your winnings, you might want to take a self-imposed, 30-day breather period before spending any of the money. That would provide time for reality to sink in and help you think things through clearly.
Does One Person Really Need All That Money?
When the jackpot really gets up there like it is now, we at the lottery start to hear from folks who say that one person doesn't need all that money. They suggest that when it gets this high, the jackpot should be split into smaller chunks that could be won by multiple people. But the fact is that people vote with their pocketbooks on this issue, and sales follow the jackpot up. The bigger the jackpot gets, the higher sales go. So it seems that a whole lot of people do want all that money to themselves! (But don't forget it is possible for more than one ticket to win the jackpot, in which case, it will be split.)
Please Play Responsibly
Iowa Lottery CEO Terry Rich predicts high sales in Iowa this week and reminds everyone to play responsibly. "As you've probably heard us say before, 'Remember to play with your head not over your head,'" Rich said. "The fun of our games is that you can do a lot of dreaming for just a few dollars."
About the Jackpot
Mega Millions jackpot winners can choose to receive their prize as a one-time, lump-sum payment or in 26 annual annuitized payments. If you choose annuity payments over time, for every $1 million in the jackpot, you will receive about $38,500 per year before taxes. The cash option is a one-time, lump-sum payment equal to the cash in the Mega Millions jackpot prize pool from the sale of tickets across the country. Here in Iowa, jackpot winners pay 25 percent federal withholding and 5 percent state withholding on their prize.
Mega Millions History
Powerball and Mega Millions are both lotto games with jackpots that have climbed into the hundreds of millions of dollars. But until 2010, the games were sold by separate groups of states. Many lotteries, including Iowa, began offering both games on Jan. 31, 2010. Today, Mega Millions tickets are sold by 44 lotteries: Iowa, 41 other states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Mega Millions jackpots start at a guaranteed $12 million. Players choose five numbers from a pool of 56 numbers and another number - the Mega Ball - from a pool of 46. Plays cost $1 and drawings are held at 10 p.m. on Tuesdays and Fridays in Atlanta, Ga. Players who purchase the Megaplier option for an additional $1 per play can increase their winnings (except for the jackpot) by up to four times the amount.