The jackpot has been growing since Friday 5th January, when 20-year-old Florida resident Shane Missler matched all five main numbers and the Mega Ball to win $451 million. He declared his intentions to ‘do some good for humanity’ and look after his money, but he was also determined to enjoy himself and immediately quit his job.
A number of players have come close to landing the top prize over the last 12 weeks, including ticket holders from Illinois and New Jersey who matched all five white balls on Tuesday 27th March to win $1 million each, but the jackpot has remained just out of reach.
Why have the jackpots started to get so big?
A series of changes were made to Mega Millions in October 2017 in a bid to create large jackpots on a more regular basis. The number matrix changed to lengthen the odds of winning the top prize, while the starting jackpot was increased to $40 million and the price of a ticket changed to $2.
The changes resulted in better odds in some prize tiers and bigger prizes in others, and Mega Millions officials are thrilled that another colossal prize has become available. Gordon Medenica, Mega Millions Lead Director and Maryland Lottery and Gaming Director, said: “Jackpot rolls are always exciting, but surpassing the $500 million mark for only the fourth time is a historic milestone.”
Will there be a winner on Friday?
Speaking about whether the top prize will be won in the next draw, Medenica said: “Large jackpots like this one capture everyone’s attention, and it would be great to see the roll go on for a while longer. But at the same time, we can’t wait to see someone win.”
Friday’s draw will mark the six-year anniversary of the day when the record was set for the largest Mega Millions jackpot. Three tickets - belonging to Merle and Patricia Butler from Illinois, a syndicate of three work colleagues from Maryland and an anonymous player from Kansas - split $656 million on March 30th 2012.
The current jackpot has a cash value of around $301 million, and if anyone is lucky enough to win they can choose between a one-off lump sum or the full jackpot amount in 30 annual instalments.
The game can be played in participating states, or by choosing numbers online, and it promises to be one of the most exciting draws in years as Mega Millions fans try to snag the largest jackpot currently on offer anywhere in the world.