The Mega Millions jackpot has now climbed to a whopping $550 million, as lottery officials announced there were no tickets sold with the winning numbers in Friday night's drawing. The $550 million prize, which will be drawn Tuesday, would be Mega Millions' second-largest ever jackpot, and the fourth-largest U.S. lottery jackpot in history.
The winning numbers drawn on Friday the 13th were 19, 24, 26, 27, 70 with a Mega Ball of 12, according to USA Today on Dec. 14. The $550 million jackpot would net a lump-sum cash option of $295 million, according to the Mega Millions website.
As is typical with huge lottery jackpots, Friday morning the Mega Millions jackpot was bumped from the original $400 million estimated, up to $425 million, thanks to strong ticket sales.
"As a rule, things will really take off the day of the drawing'', a state lottery spokesman said. Plus, ticket sales always seem to surge around the holidays.
The Mega Millions game, somewhat lesser known than its Powerball competitor, underwent a major overhaul in October. The goal was to grow bigger jackpots in a shorter amount of time.
But it also decreased the odds of winning the top prize to about 1 in 259 million, down from the previous odds of about 1 in 176 million, which were on par at the time with the odds of winning the Powerball jackpot.
However, as part of the revamp, other changes occurred that give bettors better odds of winning something overall. Players now pick five numbers out of 75, and choose one Mega Ball number out of 15.
If you wager an additional dollar by adding the multiplier option, you can multiply any lower-tier winnings by either 2, 3, 4 or 5 - depending on which of those numbers is drawn separately.
Nine $1 million winners resulted from last night's drawing for matching all five numbers but not the mega ball. That brings the total to 39 since the revamped game was launched two months ago.
Of those, two players had previously forked over the extra buck to kick in the multiplier option, bumping their second-tier winnings to $3 million and $5 million.
Friday's second-tier prize tickets were sold in Colorado, Connecticut and New Jersey, plus two each in New York, Florida and Michigan.
The current Mega Millions jackpot has been growing since Oct. 1. Following last night's failure to produce a winner, 21 straight drawings have now gone by without the jackpot being hit.
There was a record Mega Millions jackpot worth $656 million in March of 2012, but that was split between three ticket holders.
The nation's other multi-state game, Powerball, produced a jackpot worth $590 million this past May. That was won by an 84-year-old great-grandmother from Florida.