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Mega Millions jackpot grows: How close is it to becoming a record-setting prize?

(NEXSTAR) — With no ticket matching all six numbers drawn in Tuesday’s Mega Millions drawing, the jackpot has grown to an estimated $476 million ahead of Friday night’s drawing.

The jackpot has been building since January when four grand prizes were won, including a record-setting $1.348 billion prize in Maine.

That Maine jackpot was the third record-setting U.S. lottery prize won within the last year, coming on the heels of a $1.337 billion Mega Millions jackpot in Illinois and the world-record $2.04 billion Powerball jackpot won in California.

Could the current Mega Millions jackpot grow to join the ranks of the largest U.S. lottery prizes?

To rank among the ten largest Mega Millions jackpots, the prize would need to surpass $522 million. Currently, at an estimated $476 million, the jackpot ranks as the 13th largest in Mega Millions history.

The jackpot needs to grow by much more to land among the largest in U.S. history in any lottery game. A grand prize in either Mega Millions or Powerball — the two lottery draw games played in the majority of states — needs to surpass at least $731 million. The 10th largest Powerball prize is a $590.5 million jackpot won in Florida in 2013 while the 10th largest Mega Millions prize is a $522 million prize sold in California in 2019.

Based on previous record-setting drawings, which took months to build, it could be a few more weeks before the current Mega Millions jackpot becomes a record-setter.

Both Mega Millions and Powerball are designed to go multiple drawings without a jackpot winner — jackpot odds are 1 in 302.6 million for Mega Millions and 1 in 292.2 million for Powerball. If there were frequent jackpot winners, the games would never be able to build to record-setting levels.

The prize size also depends on ticket sales, which lottery officials use to calculate the jackpot (that’s part of the reason why it’s referred to as an “estimated value”).

In addition to ticket sales, when estimating the jackpot’s size, Mega Millions officials review that day’s 30-year U.S. Treasuries rate. This is an important figure because of the annuity option winners can claim that divides their prize into 29 annual payments that are 5% larger each year.

Ultimately, multiple factors need to align at the same time in order for a Mega Millions prize to reach a record size.

The next Mega Millions drawing is scheduled for 11 p.m. ET Friday. Mega Millions is played in 45 states and the District of Columbia. Tickets are $2 and there are a total of nine ways to win a prize.


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