Mar 24, 2012, 8:34 am
Biggest cash value jackpot in history
By Todd Northrop
After rolling over for the 17th consecutive time last night, the Mega Millions jackpot has been raised to a jaw-dropping $356 million for the Tuesday, March 27, drawing.
Tuesday's Grand Prize is the 5th-largest lottery jackpot of all time, but the drawing's most impressive distinction is it's cash value of $255.1 million. That's the lump-sum cash amount the winning ticket will payout if the winner chooses to receive the prize all at once. And that number is now the largest cash payout ever offered — a full $15 million more than the previous record holder (a $240 million Mega Millions payout in January, 2011, for a $380 milllion annuity jackpot).
The mammoth prize to be offered Tuesday is the result of 17 draws without a winner. The run-up started as a $12 million prize on Jan. 27.
The winning numbers for Friday, March 23, 2012 were 6, 17, 19, 20, and 21, with Mega Ball number 20. The Megaplier number was 4.
Even though nobody won the jackpot Tuesday, 39 lucky players matched the first 5 numbers for a $250,000 prize: 1 from Arkansas, 7 from California, 1 from Georgia, 1 from Idaho, 5 from Illinois, 2 from Louisiana, 2 from Maryland, 1 from Massachusetts, 1 from Missouri, 2 from New Hampshire, 3 from New Jersey, 6 from New York, 1 from Oklahoma, 1 from Pennsylvania, 1 from South Dakota, 1 from Texas, 1 from Washington, and 2 from Wisconsin.
The 7 California winners will each be awarded prizes of $259,268, 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. In the last Mega Millions drawing the prize formula resulted in a lower prize than normal, but this drawing the second-prize winners will receive more than the fixed prize offered in all the other states.
This is the second Mega Millions drawing in a row to avoid a jackpot winner despite drawing all "birthday numbers". Since one of the most popular ways to play the lottery is to pick numbers based on birthdays of family members, lottery drawings containing all low numbers normally produce many winners.
Perhaps one "anomoly" that helped the jackpot to roll over was the fact that the Mega Ball number drawn, 20, was the same as one of the first five numbers. While that is perfectly acceptible (the Mega Ball is drawn from a different pool of numbers from the first five numbers), casual players are often not aware of that possibility, and avoid picking a Mega Ball number that is the same as one of the first five numbers. When the jackpot swells, there are an influx of casual players buying tickets.
The winning numbers for Friday's Mega Millions lottery drawing will be published at USA Mega (www.usamega.com) right after the drawing takes place at 11:00 PM Eastern Time.
USA Mega is one of the few lottery Web sites with a robust technology backbone that keeps it running strong, even when massive player traffic melts down other state lottery Web sites.
The site provides lottery players in-depth information about the United States's two biggest multi-state lottery games, Mega Millions and Powerball.
Lottery players who want to see the Friday's Mega Millions after-tax jackpot amount for both the annuity and cash value can visit USA Mega's Jackpot Analysis page, which calculates the tax withholdings for every state that offers Mega Millions.
USA Mega is the originator of the Jackpot Analysis feature.
Top 25 United States lottery jackpots of all time
Tuesday's Mega Millions jackpot currently stands as the 5th-largest lottery jackpot of all time in the United States. That position may rise before the drawing Tuesday night, as lotteries are typically conservative in their initial estimates, and brisk sales may push the jackpot estimate higher by draw time.
If nobody wins Tuesday, it's anyone's guess how high it will go.
For those keeping score, the number of jackpots in the top 25, by lottery game, are:
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.
Top 20 cash value jackpots
Since many lottery winners collect their winnings in cash, the lump-sum payout is an important measure of what a ticket could be worth.
The list of top cash value jackpots has a new Number 1 entry — the Mega Millions cash jackpot for Tuesday, March 27, 2012.
The number of cash value jackpots in the top 20, by lottery game, are:
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