The Mega Millions jackpot for the Friday, August 22, drawing has hit a staggering $180 million after 15 drawings in a row turned up no winner in the multi-state lottery game, the second-longest streak without a jackpot winner in 2014.
The year started with 16 straight Mega Millions drawings without a jackpot winner and that streak was actually longer. Going back to December 20 of last year, Mega Millions went 21 drawings before giving away a $400 million jackpot on March 18.
The current winless streak began on July 1, so the 43-state lottery game is pushing two full months without anyone hitting all six Mega Millions numbers to win the top prize. The excitement of the swelling jackpot has also been reflected in ticket sales for the game.
Tuesday’s total of 31,283,895 tickets sold was the highest since the March 18 drawing with its $400 million Mega Millions jackpot, and the third-highest of 2014 for a jackpot of less that $200 million.
Chances are, with the jackpot now nearing the $200 million mark, a sizable number of new players will be jumping on the Mega Millions bandwagon. If you’ve never played the game before, here’s a short primer on how it works.
Each Mega Millions ticket costs $1. You choose five numbers between one and 75. Finally, choose a Mega Ball number between one and 15. And that’s basically it. You can choose the numbers yourself if you have favorites of lucky numbers. Or you can take the “Quick Pick” option, in which the Mega Millions computer picks your numbers for you, at random.
If you hit all six numbers — you win the jackpot! Don’t count on it, though. There are 258,890,850 possible combinations, so the chances of hitting all six are not great, to say the least.
If you match the first five numbers but not the Mega Ball, you win the second prize of a flat $1 million.
The advertised jackpot figure always represents the “annuity option.” In other words, if you’re lucky enough to win the jackpot Friday, to collect the full $180 million before taxes you’ll need to take the cash in 30 annual payments.
If you want the money all at once, you’ll receive less; Friday’s “cash option” jackpot on $107 million.
Here are the numbers from the Tuesday, August 19, Mega Millions drawing:
22 — 39 — 56 — 67 — 71 Mega Ball 15
If no one wins the Friday jackpot, it rolls over again and will likely hit $190 million.