The Mega Millions jackpot reached an estimated $309 million after Friday night’s drawing in Atlanta, Georgia, failed to pay off a big winner for the 18th straight time. With two months gone since the last time anyone matched all six Mega Millions numbers, the jackpot is now the ninth-largest in the game’s 22-year history.
Almost 50 million tickets were sold for the March 7 drawing for the game that presents players with a possible 258,890,000 combinations of numbers. While three tickets matched the first five numbers, each good for a $1 million prize, there has been no jackpot giveaway since January 7 — not too surprising given the odds, but exciting nonetheless for aspiring multimillionaires who have seen lottery jackpots soar in recent months.
Of the Top 10 lottery prizes in history in either of the two national lotteries, Mega Millions and Powerball, five have hit last year or this year, and seven since 2012. The $309 million jackpot for the Tuesday, March 11 Mega Millions drawing is not even the biggest in the last four months. On December 17, Mega Millions gave away a $648 million jackpot.
The $309 million estimate could climb if Mega Millions fever takes hold. A higher than predicted number of ticket sales results in an increased jackpot. But with the spate of massive jackpots lately, lottery players may have become a bit blasé about all those potential riches. Lately, jackpots have not produced a frenzy of ticket sales until they approach the $400 million range.
Here are the winning Mega Millions numbers from Friday, March 7:
11 — 13 — 51 — 57 — 69 Mega Ball 1
If you are one of the three fortunate Mega Millions players — one each in Massachusetts, New York and Texas — who matched those first five numbers, you are $1 milllion richer this morning, before taxes of course.
The $309 million estimated jackpot would be the 23rd largest lottery prize in U.S. history. For that matter, the $169.5 million single payment, for a winner who picks the “cash option” would be the 20th-grandest “cash” grand prize in lottery history.
A Mega Millions winner who selected the cash option in Tuesday’s drawing would owe more than $42 million to Uncle Sam right off the top, by the calculations of lottery experts at USAMega.com, leaving that lucky ticket holder with a “mere” $127,125,000 to fool around with. State taxes could take even more, unless the ticket was purchased in one of the nine states — out of 43 plus two jurisdictions — that charges no state tax on lottery winnings.
But if, for example, Tuesday’s Mega Millions drawing produces a winner and that ticket was bought in New York, that lucky individual would owe another $15 million in taxes on the cash payout.