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UPDATE: World Record Mega Millions® Jackpot Raised to $540 Million For Friday

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:

  • There is debate about the most expensive movie ever made. Some say it was "Avatar" at $280 million. Others say it was "Cleopatra" at $300 million, adjusted for inflation. Either way, if you're the Mega Millions jackpot winner, you could make your own blockbuster and have money left over.
  • The combined population of the United States and Canada totals about 348 million. As the Mega Millions jackpot winner, you could give $1 to every person in both countries and still have money to spare.
  • And bringing it home to Iowa, our state's population is about 2.93 million people. If you won the jackpot and wanted to give it all away, you could give $170 to every man, woman and child living in our state.

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:

  • Know the rules of your pool and put them in writing. Group play details should be discussed, written and distributed to all members as the group's official rules. Some issues you may want to cover include: If a regular playing member is not present on lottery collection day will they be included or excluded? What if a regular player has someone else put in money towards their game share, do both players receive an equal share? Can players come in and out of the group? When the rules are in writing, there is no question about how to split the funds.
  • Provide everyone in your pool with copies of the group's tickets before the drawing. This should include the identifying numbers on the back of the tickets. You may also want to tell people the name and address of the retail location where the tickets were purchased and the approximate time of the purchase.
  • If the person buying the tickets for your pool also wants to buy tickets on their own, the two purchases should be kept separate. You may even want to consider buying the two sets of tickets at different stores so it is clear which tickets are for the group and which are for you.
  • Put together a list of the names and telephone numbers of everyone in your pool. In particular, you should have that information for the people who are in charge of buying the tickets and the person who will hold the tickets.
  • And finally, remember that the Iowa Lottery has added a "Play 'Em All" option in Powerball, Mega Millions and Hot Lotto®. The Play 'Em All option in Mega Millions gets you 46 plays for $46, one for each of the 46 Mega Ball numbers available in a drawing. You'll be guaranteed to match the Mega Ball at least once.

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.