It’s estimated the jackpot for Friday night’s drawing in the Mega Millions lottery will reach an all-time record of $500-million. Yep, that’s a half-billion bucks.
Iowa Lottery spokeswoman Mary Neubauer says it’s not only the biggest jackpot in the game’s history, it will be the largest prize ever offered in a North American lotto game.
“It’s amazing that it’s gotten this high,” Neubauer says. “It’s just something that’s going to happen every once in a while in a lottery game. You never know how many times the jackpot is going to roll before it’s won. In this case, the Mega Millions jackpot has been growing since late January. It hasn’t been won that whole time and that’s why it’s reached this historic number.”
There are drawings twice a week (Tuesdays and Fridays) for the Mega Millions game, which is played in Iowa and 40 other states and the District of Columbia. That means the game has had 18 drawings in a row with no grand prize winner. Neubauer says the odds point to Friday night.
“There are only so many number combinations in the game and with the level of sales that we’re seeing across the country, and sales have been high, I would anticipate there will be a whole bunch of tickets sold so it becomes more likely that there probably will be a winner,” Neubauer says, “but I don’t know. Nobody can predict, obviously, until the drawing happens.”
The estimated prize is $500-million for the annuity option over 25 years, or the cash option of $359-million. Even with the cash option, that’s enough to give a dollar to every person in the United States and Canada and still have 11-million bucks left. The going rate for a flight on a Russian rocket to the International Space Station is a mere 35-million — so you could make that trip ten times.
When a jackpot reaches this monumental level, many people will team up with co-workers and buy batches of tickets in a pool. Neubauer has a word of caution for those players.
“Just make that sure everybody can see the tickets before the drawing and that everybody knows how much money they put in so there aren’t any tough questions later amongst your office mates, your friends or neighbors,” Neubauer says. “Make sure everybody knows what’s going on within your pool so that all of your questions can be answered and there won’t be any hard feelings later.”
The odds of winning the Mega Millions jackpot are about 1-in-176-million. The drawing is Friday at 10 P.M. CST. Iowa was a founding state in the rival Powerball lottery game and Iowa’s only been a part of the Mega Millions coalition since 2010.