With the Friday the 13th drawing failing to produce the winner of the fifth-biggest jackpot ever, officials increased the sum of the offered top prize up to $550 million for Tuesday’s drawing, thus making the game the fourth-biggest in the U.S. lottery history.
Paula Otto, the Virginia Lottery’s executive director and Mega Millions’ lead director, revealed to reporters that she expects the amount to rise even higher before the drawing.
As CBS News writes, the updated sum of prize could approach or even surpass the largest Mega Millions jackpot ever claimed, $656 million in March 2012. Had someone won Friday, it would have been that game’s second-highest prize.
“We’ve never had a jackpot at this level in December leading into the holidays,” Otto said. “If we keep rolling, we could well be at a billion dollars going into Christmas.”
However, the specialist explained that each time the lottery fails to produce a jackpot, as this time appeared to be the 21 on this run, the pot gets even larger. That increases the number of tickets sold and at the same time decreasing the chances that nobody will win.
Otto went on, adding that after $167 million in sales of mostly $1 tickets since the previous results obtained on Tuesday, the odds of someone picking all the winning numbers Friday were about 50-50.
“They’ll almost certainly be even higher next Tuesday and even higher in subsequent drawings should the jackpot still go unclaimed,” CBS News says.
“A winner from Friday night’s drawing would have had a cash option of $228 million before taxes. The winning numbers were: 19-24-26-27-70, Mega Ball: 12,” the publication adds.
Although nobody won the money, nine people took home $1 million prizes for guessing the first five numbers. The happy tickets were acquired in Colorado, Connecticut, New Jersey and two apiece in Florida, Michigan and New York, the spokesperson for the lottery said.
Earlier Friday, it was announced that ticket sales were 40 percent ahead of projections, prompting officials to increase the super prize from $400 million to $425 million.
Sarah Andrews, 35, of Madrid, Iowa, purchased one Mega Millions ticket Friday morning. She said she just took the automated Easy Pick option.
“I feel that my odds are so low anyway, it doesn’t really matter,” said the IT specialist. “I only buy a ticket to get a dollar’s worth of entertainment.”
“In some ways we’re in uncharted territory because we have this new matrix,” Otto said. “… How wonderful that the changes seem to be working immediately to get us bigger jackpots.”
It also gave ticket buyers a chance to daydream – at least until the drawing dashed their hopes of striking it rich.
“It would change my life, absolutely,” said Barbara Cooper, who bought two tickets Friday at a New Orleans convenience store. “We still have children in college, so that would help out immensely.”