Mega Millions Lottery Jackpot Moves to $540 Million Ahead of Friday Drawing

Following 34 consecutive drawings without producing a winner, the multi-state Mega Millions lottery jackpot has ballooned to $540 million. The next drawing will be held on Friday night (July 8) at 11pm ET.

In the wake of the Mega Millions’ longest streak ever without announcing a winner, the nearly national lottery contest – which is available in 44 states, along with the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands – has generated historically high sales volume.

Residents of Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, and Michigan can purchase Mega Millions tickets directly online, while players living in New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, and Virginia can purchase ticket subscription plans over the internet.

The only states which do not offer Mega Millions are Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Mississippi, Nevada, and Utah.

A previous announcement pegged Friday’s estimated jackpot at $508 million, but as players continue to purchase tickets at a record pace, Mega Millions organizers revised their expectations upward.

According to Paula Otto, executive director for the Virginia Lottery and the lead director for the Mega Millions group, anticipation for Friday’s drawing has reached a fever pitch:

“The excitement is palpable as this is the largest American lottery jackpot since the world record $1.586 billion Powerball jackpot in January. Sales are expected to grow stronger right up until Friday night’s drawing.”

The last Mega Millions drawing to produce a jackpot winner occurred on March 8 of this year, when Michael Burkett of Seattle, Washington landed all five white balls plus the yellow ball to score a $157 million prize.

The streak of 34 straight winner-less drawings is the longest in the Mega Millions’ 20-year history, shattering the previous high “roll” of 22 drawings. Otto offered her professional appraisal of the current run, while explaining why lotteries tend to reach a fevered pitch following such extended runs with no jackpots awarded:

“This is our longest roll ever, by far. It takes much bigger jackpots to get players excited. It looks like the tipping point might be right about now.”

Similar in setup to the Powerball contest, America’s other major multi-state lottery program, Mega Millions requires players to correctly guess the numbers (between 1 and 75) of five white balls, in addition to the number (between 1 and 15) of a special yellow ball.

The odds of doing so correctly are commonly quoted at 1 in 259 million, but in actuality players have a 1 in 258,890,850 chance of correctly guessing all six numbers. This reflects a slightly better probability of winning versus Powerball, which also requires six balls to be chosen correctly, but offers a 1 in 292 million chance of success.

The Mega Millions lottery also awards a prize of $1 million to anyone who correctly guesses all five of the white balls – without landing the yellow ball. The odds of this secondary jackpot stand at approximately 1 in 18.5 million.

If somebody does happen to win Friday night’s Mega Millions drawing, the lucky player (or players) can choose between two payment plans.

In order to claim the full $540 million prize, the winner receives the funds over the course of 29 annual payments. For a one-time cash disbursement, the winner takes home an immediate payout of $380 million.