Mega Millions Lottery Drawing Nears $1.6 Billion Prize Pool

Mega Millions Record Lottery Drawing

The $868 million Mega Millions drawing on Friday has one of the Top 3 prize pools is US lottery history.

The Mega Millions and Powerball lotteries have a combined $2.2 billion in prize money on the line in the coming week. Mega Millions alone has a jackpot prize of $1.6 billion on the line on Tuesday, October 23.

Prior to the Friday Mega Millions drawing, the prize pool was estimated to be $868 million. The eventual amount was closer to $950 million, due to heightened lottery sales. Mega Millions estimates next Tuesday’s drawing will be worth $1.6 billion — which would be an all-time multistate lottery jackpot.

Wednesday’s Powerball jackpot sits at $620 million for the Wednesday, October 24 drawing. While that huge prize seems tiny in comparison, the Powerball prize is nearing the level where it becomes a positive expectation game. Powerball would need a couple of more drawings to reach that level, but $345 million is nothing to sneeze at.

Combined, the two lottery drawings are garnering the kind of US media attention which drives up sales, which in turn drives up the size of the jackpot prize. it would be hard to say it is free advertising, but an $868 million jackpot tends to create a lot of buzz.

The Mega Millions jackpot prize is the lottery drawing receiving the lion’s share of the attention this week. Friday’s drawing had a record amount on the line for the multistate lottery association, but the next Mega Millions jackpot will top all others in history for a single payout.

Record-Setting Mega Millions Prize Pool

The world’s two largest single-winner lotteries have not had a winner in months. The last Mega Millions winner was on July 24, when 11 co-workers combined to win a $543 million prize. The Powerball lottery hasn’t hit since August 11, when a man on Staten Island won $245.6 million.

The largest single drawing in lottery history came on January 13, 2016, when the Powerball jackpot reached $1.586 billion. The winners of that jackpot did not collect the largest prize in lottery history, though, because the winners shared the total prize three ways.

World’s Largest Lottery Jackpots

That is why El Gordo, the Spanish Christmas Lottery, is not considered the largest lotto drawing in the world. Though El Gordo has the largest prize pool, €2.31 billion, the jackpot prize (El Gordo: the big one) each year is “only” €4,000,000 ($4.6 million).

That distinction goes to the winner of the August 23, 2017 Powerball drawing, a single winner who collected the full prize of $758.7 million, which was the record.

Of course, the actual lump sum payout for the potential Mega Millions winner this Friday night will be considerably less than $868 million. The lump sum payout is less than the full annuity payout, though it arrives all at once instead of a 29-year period. Also, the Mega Millions association takes out taxes from either payout. The winner can expect to deposit about $495 million in their bank.

Odds of Winning Mega Millions Lottery

The odds of winning one of the multistate lottery drawings are astronomical. Winning the Mega Millions jackpot prize is a 1-in-258,000,000 shot, while the odds of winning the Powerball lottery’s jackpot is 1-in-291,000,000.

People who know the odds often wonder why anyone would buy a lottery ticket. It is a matter of risk/reward, of course. A person can risk $2 to $3 and have the chance to win half-a-billion dollars. For many, the sense of expectation of buying a lottery ticket is worth the small expenditure.

Lottery Tip: Buy One Ticket and Hope for the Best

It is when people try to strategize the lottery that ticket sales grow out of control. People who spend $100 or $200 on lottery tickets when a big jackpot amount is available misunderstand how lottery odds work. They think they are cutting down their odds of winning by a factor of 100 to 200, when in fact they are barely increases their chances of hitting the jackpot combination.

100 number combinations out of a possible 258,000,000 combination, in the grand scheme of things, still leave nearly 258,000,000 winning combinations that you don’t own. Those who buy hundreds of lottery tickets seem to think they are lowering their odds of winning by a factor of 100 to 200, which simply is not the case. Such thinking can lead to people wasting a ton of money on the Powerball or Mega Millions lottery.

The difference in 0% and 0.0000000001% chance is a vast gulf, while the different in any other realistic set of lottery odds is miniscule.

How to Win the Lottery

The topic reminds me of a publisher I worked for years ago. One day, this person asked me to write an article “How to Win the Lottery”. Thinking my publisher wanted me to give some hairbrained tips for increasing one’s odds, I asked for a clarification.

He said, “Write about what one should do if you win the lottery?” Essentially, I was supposed to give tips for winning the lottery the right way. Most of the tips involved changing one’s mailing address, asking for one’s win to be anonymous, and otherwise avoiding the avalanche of scam artists, thieves, and long-lost cousins from appearing out of the woodwork.

All other advice for winning the lottery is hot air. Players who want to win the Mega Millions lottery on Friday should buy one ticket and hope for the best. If you want to buy 100 tickets, then find 99 friends to share the cost on the agreement you’ll each receive 1% of the payout. The $4.5 million to $5 million you’ll win is still going to be a life-changing sum of money — if you do it the right way. Or as I jokingly say to the cashier when the lottery gets large and I buy a ticket, “The $10 million lottery prize wouldn’t have helped me a bit, but this amount is worth my time.”