Mega Millions Lottery Jackpot Greets New Year By Soaring Past $200 Million Mark

The Mega Millions lottery rang in the New Year with a jackpot soaring past the $200 million mark, after the first drawing of 2015 produced no big winners Friday. The January 2 drawing proved to be the 17th straight without a jackpot winner, leaving Tuesday’s top prize at an estimated $206 million.

After finishing a year of disappointing ticket sales, the $188 million jackpot up for grabs in Friday’s Mega Millions lottery game started 2015 off on a healthy note, generating nearly 32 million ticket buys. But that number was still below the total sold for last year’s October 17 drawing, when a $180 million jackpot drew more than 34 million ticket sales.

Since June 27, Mega Millions has seen only two jackpot winners, making the current run of drawings the third in a row with jackpots that reach well into the nine-digit range. The jackpot won on August 22 totaled $180 million, and came only after 15 drawings in a row with no one hitting all six numbers to claim the jackpot prize.

The next winning ticket did not appear for another 24 drawings after that, when one ticket purchased for the November 4 drawing matched the six Mega Millions numbers for a stunning $321 million jackpot prize.

Who knows how high the jackpot will reach this time around, after the nationwide lottery game made it through the entire holiday season without anyone winning the top prize, and now starts 2015 already well into the hundreds of millions.

Friday’s Mega Millions drawing did produce two second-prize winners, however, as one ticket each purchased in New York and New Jersey matched the first five numbers, missing only the Mega Ball, to claim an even $1 million prize.

The odds of hitting the “Match 5” prize are approximately 18.5 million to one. While still an incredible long shot, those chances are considerably better than the roughly 259 million to one odds against hitting the jackpot.

The start of 2015 is an exciting time to be a lottery player, as the other 44-state lottery game, Powerball, will also start the New Year with a nine-figure jackpot. The January 3 Powerball drawing will be worth $131 million, after going since November 29 without a jackpot winner.

Even without a top jackpot winner, the inaugural 2015 Mega Millions drawing still produced more than $5.7 million in total prize money. To find out if any of that cash belongs to you, check your ticket against the following numbers and if you see a match, click on this link to see how much you’ve won:

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The cash value of Tuesday’s Mega Millions jackpot — in other words, if a lottery winner takes the money in one payments rather than in 30 annual installments — is estimated at $131 million.