Friday night’s Mega Millions jackpot is expected to hit a staggering $1 billion, continuing a trend of giant jackpots.
It is the second-largest lottery prize in US history and joins 5 other top 10 drawings in the last 3 years.
The previous record of $656 million was set on March 30, 2012. The incredible jackpot comes after no ticket matched all six numbers drawn Tuesday, October 16 – the white balls 3, 45, 49, 61 and 69, plus the gold Mega Ball 9.
The jackpot has soared since it was last won on July 24, when a California office pool of 11 co-workers shared $543 million, the largest prize ever won on a single ticket in the game. Three other Mega Millions jackpots have been won this year – $451 million on January 5 (FL), $533 million on March 30 (NJ), and $142 million on May 4 (OH).
Lottery officials changed the odds in recent years to lessen the chance of winning a jackpot, which in turn increased the opportunity for top prizes to reach stratospheric levels.
States have generally reported increased Mega Millions and Powerball sales since the change.
A total of 4,527,495 winning tickets at all prize levels came out of Tuesday’s drawing.
There were plenty of winners on October 16 as players from around the country jumped into the game at record levels.
Nine tickets matched the five white balls to win the game’s second prize. One of them, sold in Texas, included the optional Megaplier (available in most states for an extra $1 purchase) and is worth $5 million! The other eight are million-dollar tickets – two were sold in Pennsylvania and one each in CA, FL, GA, KY, NJ and NY.
One hundred tickets matched four white balls plus the Mega Ball for the $10,000 third prize; 12 of those are actually worth $50,000 each because they included the optional Megaplier.
Fourteen McDonald’s employees from Baltimore are suing co-worker Mirlande Wilson for allegedly stealing more than $100 million in lottery winnings from a ticket that they say they had purchased together.
The lawsuit claims that Mirlande Wilson bought a winning lottery ticket with the group’s pooled money and then avoided giving them their payouts – even though she never actually claimed the Mega Millions jackpot award.
Mirlande Wilson, 37, briefly won TV and Internet fame in April for claiming to have won a ticket for the Mega Millions jackpot, which totaled $656 million at the time, and then failing to produce the winning ticket. She eventually claimed that she had misplaced it.
Days after Mirlande Wilson claimed to have lost the ticket, three public school workers including two teachers and an administrator came forward with a winning ticket to claim their prize. The winners, who chose to remain anonymous, each received between $30 million and $40 million after taxes.
Mirlande Wilson briefly won TV and Internet fame in April for claiming to have won a ticket for the Mega Millions jackpot
The lawsuit against Mirlande Wilson claims that she had never lost the ticket, but that she gave it to the public school workers in order to split the prize money among fewer people.
One of the plaintiffs, Dominique Gordet, says he was Mirlande Wilson’s live-in boyfriend at the time and that she confessed the elaborate scheme to him.
“Since that time, defendant Wilson has repeatedly admitted that those individuals were mere nominees, on her behalf, and that arrangements had been made to ensure that she would later receive nearly all the lottery proceeds,” the lawsuit states.
The plaintiffs said they gave Mirlande Wilson more than $75 to buy lottery tickets at a Shell gas station near the McDonald’s where they worked.
“On information and belief, she purchased, or caused another to purchase, additional tickets, including the winning ticket at a 7-11 convenience store in Baltimore County. These additional tickets were purchased by virtue of additional monies being paid into the pool after the first purchase.”
News of the lawsuit was first reported by the Baltimore Sun.
Maryland lottery officials say there is no evidence of fraud in the Mega Millions winnings.