Mega Millions Jackpot Reaches $550 Million

The Mega Millions jackpot on Tuesday will be at least $550 million, the second biggest payoff ever in the game’s history, and the fourth biggest ever in lottery history.

No one picked the winning numbers in Friday’s drawing, so the payoff continues to swell. In fact, by the time Tuesday rolls around, with consumers buying tickets like mad, the jackpot could even exceed the March 2012 Mega Millions record of $656 million.

Paula Otto, a Mega Millions official, admitted that “We’ve never had a jackpot at this level in December leading into the holidays. If we keep rolling, we could well be at a billion dollars going into Christmas.”

Although no one won the mind-boggling grand prize on Friday, nine lucky ticket holders won $1 million each for matching the first five numbers

Mega Millions made format changes two months ago to compete more effectively with PowerBall. “Mega Millions had been outshined somewhat by the massive jackpots of the Powerball game, which doubled ticket prices to $2 in January 2012, enriching jackpots as it also added a number of secondary prizes. Mega Millions received a makeover of its own in October specifically to increase the size of jackpots. The biggest change was lowering the odds of winning, which led to fewer winners and more rollovers.”

The jackpot has rolled over 21 times since October 1. The odds of winning the Mega Millions jackpot are approximately one in 259 million (prior to the jackpot-boosting changes, it was 1 in 176 million). The odds of winning any of the Mega Millions prizes are approximately 1 in 15. A Mega Millions ticket still costs $1.

Forty-three states (plus the District of Columbia and the US Virgin Islands) currently participate in the Mega Millions lottery. Televised drawings are Tuesdays and Fridays at 11:00 pm Eastern time in Atlanta.

Before Tuesday, will you be stopping by the local convenience store to buy a Mega Millions lottery ticket or two?

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