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MEGA MILLIONS JACKPOT SOARS TO $636 MILLION

Dec 17, 2013, 12:08 pm

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Mega Millions

Mega Millions buying frenzy sends jackpot to brink of world record

Includes video report

Updated at 1:03 pm with Maryland sales stats

By Todd Northrop

Certainly the state lotteries expected the multi-state Mega Millions October rules changes to increase jackpots, but it's fair to say the first jackpot run under the new rules exceeded their wildest expectations.

When Mega Millions changed its number matrix and prize structure in October, Texas Lottery executive director Gary Grief said, "We think that players will respond favorably to the new Mega Millions changes and expect even greater sales for the game." (See Tickets for updated Mega Millions game on sale Saturday, Lottery Post, October 18, 2013.)

What an understatement!

The official jackpot estimate for tonight's Mega Millions drawing has been raised for the second time in two days, due to heavy demand for the mind-blowing jackpot.

As of Tuesday morning, the estimated annuity jackpot for the Tuesday, December 17, 2013, Mega Millions jackpot is $636 million, with a lump-sum cash value of $341.2 million.

The increase propells tonight's jackpot total to the second-highest lottery jackpot in world history, and only $20 million shy of the all-time record $656 million jackpot, set in March of 2012 by the Mega Millions game.

But what if nobody wins the jackpot tonight?

Lottery officials have estimated that the starting jackpot estimate would be $950 million, with a cash option of $509.6 million. 

Translation:  We will see the world's first $1 billion lottery jackpot.

According to the Maryland Lottery, Mega Millions tickets in Maryland alone are being sold today at the rate of 101 tickets per second — 6,041 per minute.  The state is estimating that Maryland Lottery retailers will go through approximately 2016 rolls of paper for this particular drawing.  At 4,000 tickets per roll, that's a lot of tickets.

The rush of people trying to check their numbers on the Internet tonight will likely have most Web sites swamped.  Players are encouraged to check their numbers at USA Mega (www.usamega.com), which tends to survive incredible traffic volumes better than most state lottery Web sites.

"Players checking online should hang in there and refresh their Web browser every so often until they get through to the site," said Todd Northrop, founder of Lottery Post and USA Mega.  "The rush of traffic happens right at 11:00 Eastern Time, so waiting a half hour or so before checking the numbers will probably be easiest."

In the meantime, lottery players dreaming about what $636 million means to them after taxes have been withheld can check USA Mega's Jackpot Analysis page, which provides the information for each individual state.

VIDEO: Northrop featured on CNN's New Day program

Lottery Post founder Todd Northrop was featured on CNN's early morning New Day program in a segment discussing the Tuesday Mega Millions drawing.

Todd Northrop, Founder of Lottery Post, featured in CNN segmentTodd Northrop, Founder of Lottery Post (www.lotterypost.com) was featured on the CNN New Day program in a segment about the Mega Millions lottery drawing on December 17, 2013.PT1M46Shttp://img.youtube.com/vi/z55lJLNFv40/hqdefault.jpghttps://youtu.be/z55lJLNFv402013-12-17T11:30:00-05:00

Top 25 United States lottery jackpots of all time

Tuesday's Mega Millions jackpot currently stands as the 2nd-largest lottery jackpot of all time in the United States.  That position may rise before the drawing, as lotteries are typically conservative in their initial estimates, and brisk sales may push the jackpot estimate higher by draw time.

  1. Mega Millions: $656 million, Mar. 30, 2012 - Illinois, Kansas, Maryland
  2. Mega Millions: $636 million, Dec. 17, 2013 - Preliminary estimate, not won yet
  3. Powerball: $590.5 million, May 18, 2013 - Florida
  4. Powerball: $587.5 million, Nov. 28, 2012 - Arizona, Missouri
  5. Powerball: $448.4 million, Aug. 7, 2013 - Minnesota, New Jersey (2)
  6. Powerball: $399.4 million, Sep. 18, 2013 - South Carolina
  7. Mega Millions: $390 million, Mar. 6, 2007 - Georgia, New Jersey
  8. Mega Millions: $380 million, Jan. 4, 2011 - Idaho, Washington
  9. Powerball: $365 million, Feb. 18, 2006 - Nebraska
  10. The Big Game: $363 million, May 9, 2000 - Illinois, Michigan
  11. Powerball: $340 million, Oct. 19, 2005 - Oregon
  12. Powerball: $338.3 million, Mar. 23, 2013 - New Jersey
  13. Powerball: $337 million, Aug. 15, 2012 - Michigan
  14. Powerball: $336.4 million, Feb. 11, 2012 - Rhode Island
  15. Mega Millions: $336 million, Aug. 28, 2009 - California, New York
  16. The Big Game: $331 million, Apr. 16, 2002 - Georgia, Illinois, New Jersey
  17. Mega Millions: $330 million, Aug. 31, 2007 - Maryland, New Jersey, Texas, Virginia
  18. Mega Millions: $319 million, Mar. 25, 2011 - New York
  19. Mega Millions: $315 million, Nov. 15, 2005 - California
  20. Powerball: $314.9 million, Dec. 26, 2002 - West Virgina
  21. Powerball: $314.3 million, Aug. 25, 2007 - Indiana
  22. Powerball: $295.7 million, Jul. 29, 1998 - Indiana
  23. Powerball: $295 million, Aug. 25, 2001 - Delaware, Kentucky, Minnesota, New Hampshire
  24. Mega Millions: $294 million, Jul. 2, 2004 - Massachusetts
  25. Powerball: $276.3 million, Mar. 15, 2008 - West Virgina

For those keeping score, the number of jackpots in the top 25, by lottery game, are:

  • Mega Millions: 9
  • Powerball: 14
  • The Big Game: 2

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 25 cash value jackpots

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.

Looking at the cash value, the upcoming Mega Millions jackpot ranks as the 4th-largest cash value in U.S. history.

  1. Mega Millions: $471 million cash, Mar. 30, 2012 ($656 million annuity) - Illinois, Kansas, Maryland
  2. Powerball: $384.7 million cash, Nov. 28, 2012 ($587.5 million annuity) - Arizona, Missouri
  3. Powerball: $370.9 million cash, May 18, 2013 ($590.5 million annuity) - Florida
  4. Mega Millions: $341.2 million cash, Dec. 17, 2013 ($636 million annuity) - Preliminary estimate, not won yet
  5. Powerball: $258.2 million cash, Aug. 7, 2013 ($448.4 million annuity) - Minnesota, New Jersey (2)
  6. Mega Millions: $240 million cash, Jan. 4, 2011 ($380 million annuity) - Idaho, Washington
  7. Mega Millions: $233.1 million cash, Mar. 6, 2007 ($390 million annuity) - Georgia, New Jersey
  8. Powerball: $224.7 million cash, Aug. 15, 2012 ($337 million annuity) - Michigan
  9. Powerball: $223.3 million cash, Sep. 18, 2013 ($399.4 million annuity) - South Carolina
  10. Mega Millions: $214 million cash, Aug. 28, 2009 ($336 million annuity) - California, New York
  11. Powerball: $211 million cash, Mar. 23, 2013 ($338.3 million annuity) - New Jersey
  12. Powerball: $210 million cash, Feb. 11, 2012 ($336.4 million annuity) - Rhode Island
  13. Mega Millions: $202.9 million cash, Mar. 25, 2011 ($319 million annuity) - New York
  14. Mega Millions: $194.4. million cash, Aug. 31, 2007 ($330 million annuity) - Maryland, New Jersey, Texas, Virginia
  15. Mega Millions: $185 million cash, Nov. 15, 2005 ($315 million annuity) - California
  16. The Big Game: $180 million cash, May 9, 2000 ($363 million annuity) - Illinois, Michigan
  17. Powerball: $177.3 million cash, Feb. 18, 2006 ($365 million annuity) - Nebraska
  18. Mega Millions: $168 million cash, July 2, 2004 ($294 million annuity) - Massachusetts
  19. Mega Millions: $167.7 million cash, Feb. 22, 2008 ($275 million annuity) - Georgia
  20. Powerball: $166 million cash, Aug. 25, 2001 ($295 million annuity) - Delaware, Kentucky, Minnesota, New Hampshire
  21. Mega Millions: $165.2 million cash, May 4, 2010 ($266 million annuity) - California
  22. Powerball: $164.4 million cash, won Oct. 19, 2005 ($340 million annuity) - Oregon
  23. Mega Millions: $164 million cash, Feb. 28, 2006 ($270 million annuity) - Ohio
  24. Powerball: $161.5 million cash, July 29, 1998 ($295.7 million annuity) - Indiana
  25. Mega Millions: $156.1 million cash, Sept. 16, 2005 ($258 million annuity) - New Jersey

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