Jackpot Stands At An Estimated $540 Million Annuity, $389.8 Million Cash Option
DES MOINES, Iowa - The monster jackpot for Friday's Mega Millions drawing has entered historic territory, and players in Iowa and across the country are definitely taking notice. Strong sales led lottery officials Thursday morning to raise the jackpot, already a world record, even higher. It now stands at an estimated $540 million annuity ($389.8 million cash) for Friday's drawing. That is the largest prize ever offered in a 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.
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.
Two Iowa Tickets Came Close Winning It All On Tuesday
Two tickets sold in Iowa each came within one number of winning the jackpot in Tuesday's Mega Millions drawing. The tickets each matched four of the first five numbers and the Mega Ball to win a $10,000 prize. One of the tickets also had the Megaplier option, which multiplied its prize to $30,000. The $10,000-winning ticket was sold at Quik Trip, 802 E. First St. in Ankeny, while the $30,000-winning ticket was sold at Casey's, 4 S. First St. in Moville.
A total of 21,675 tickets sold in Iowa won prizes in Tuesday's drawing.
Putting The Numbers In Perspective
Half a billion dollars is definitely a lot of money. Here's some perspective on that number:
A Few Words About Office Pools
When the jackpot reaches a huge number like this, many folks will jump into office pools or buy tickets with friends, family and neighbors. It's a fun thing to do, and hey, you don't want to be the only person still at work Monday when everyone else has won, right? The Iowa Lottery offers these reminders to keep your pool play fun and hassle free:
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.