Mega Millions

Mega Millions Jackpot Vaults Past $200 Million Mark For Friday Drawing

The Mega Millions jackpot for the Friday, February 28 drawing will not come close to the record of $656 million, won by three ticket-holders on March 30, 2012. But Friday’s jackpot is still nothing to sneeze at. The total value is $216 million.

That, of course, is the “annuitized” value, which is how lotteries announce their jackpots. In other words, the total amount would be paid in annual installments over 30 years. According to the USAMega lottery-watching site, the jackpot for a winner who chooses the annuity option would come to annual payments averaging $7.2 million before taxes.

The Internal Revenue Service grabs 25 percent of that total right off the top, so a winner would actually pocket $5.4 million every year.

But winners who choose the “cash value” option for Friday’s drawing will receive a pre-tax single payment of $119.6 million. That comes to $89.7 million after federal tax.

No one won the jackpot on Tuesday night. The winning numbers picked at 11 pm Eastern Time Tuesday in Atlanta, Georgia, swere…

1218253566 Mega Ball: 15

It’s never surprising when no one wins the big jackpot. After the game changed its format in October of last year, the odds of winning dropped to what seems like a hopeless 1 in 258,890,850.

Compare that to the odds of picking all six lucky numbers in the Powerball lottery, 1 in 175,223,510, which seems pretty favorable by comparison. But even though the odds of winning Powerball are better, the jackpots are often comparable.

Why? For starters, Powerball costs twice as much to play — $2 per ticket instead of Mega Millions $1 ticket — so jackpots build up quicker. Also, Powerball starts at a minimum annuity jackpot of $40 million. Mega Millions starts at a relatively paltry $15 million.

But the Mega Millions jackpot has been creeping up since January. Tuesday night’s drawing was the 15th straight without a jackpot winner.

The last Mega Millions winner was on January 3, when a 69-year old Nashville, Tennessee retiree, Tina Still, and her son Jonathan who is a transportation worker for the state, shared the lump sum payment of $32.3 million, from a total jackpot of $61 million.