Mega Millions jackpot closes in on $1 billion

The Mega Millions lottery has climbed to just shy of $1 billion after Friday’s drawing once again failed to find a winner for the jackpot. The pool for the big winner has increased to an estimated $977 million and the next drawing is Friday March 22 at 11:00 p.m. ET.

The largest Mega Millions jackpot of all time hit $1.6 billion. To date, the jackpot has only topped $1 billion five times in the lottery’s history.

Tickets for Mega Millions cost $2 each and are sold in 45 states, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands. In most jurisdictions, players can add the Megaplier for an additional $1 to multiply their non-jackpot prizes. (Sorry, you can’t double the $977 million.)

Whoever picks all five numbers and the Mega ball will have the option of taking that payout over 29 annual payments or can opt for a one-time lump sum of $461 million.

To be clear, the smart thing to do with a payday of that magnitude is to invest it and live off the interest. (Heck, just investing the lump sum in a top earning 12-month CD would earn you just shy of $25 million.)

Keep in mind that while it’s a fun fantasy, it likely will remain just that. Mega Millions players have a 1 in 302.6 million chance of taking home the top prize.

While no one has won the jackpot, there have been plenty of people who earned a windfall since the last winning ticket was drawn on Dec. 8. Lottery officials say there have been more than 23.6 million winning non-Jackpot tickets in the last 29 drawings, with 37 of those topping $1 million or more.

Should this week’s drawing fail to find a winner and the lottery crosses the $1 billion mark, it will be in rarified air. The five previous billion-dollar plus winners were split among five states. South Carolina was the first to claim the prize in 2018, followed by Michigan in 2021, Illinois in 2022, Maine in early 2023 and Florida last August.

Money can’t buy happiness, of course. Winning the lottery often brings unexpected headaches and many winners have ended up destitute. The winner of a $2 billion Powerball jackpot in 2022 isn’t in that situation, but he spent quite heavily following his win, buying a $25.5 million hillside home in Hollywood Hills and a $47 million seven-bedroom, 11-bathroom home with a large infinity pool and panoramic views of Los Angeles.

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