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United States

US Mega Millions lottery jackpot hits world record US$1.6 billion

If a player hits all six numbers, they can opt for an immediate cash payment of US$904 million or US$1.6 billion prize over 29 years

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 21 October, 2018, 11:26am
UPDATED : Sunday, 21 October, 2018, 9:46pm

The US Mega Millions jackpot grew to US$1.6 billion, a world record for a lottery, after Friday’s drawing produced no winner of the grand prize, officials said.

The next Mega Millions draw will be on Tuesday, after no one hit all of the numbers of 15, 23, 53, 65, 70 and the Mega Ball 7 during Friday night’s draw.

“Mega Millions has already entered historic territory, but it’s truly astounding to think that now the jackpot has reached an all-time world record,” Gordon Medenica, lead director of the Mega Millions Group, said in a statement.

The record jackpot level for the statewide US lottery follows a move by the game’s organisers a year ago to lower the odds of winning, to one-in-303 million from one-in-259 million, in an effort to generate larger prizes.

If a player hits all six numbers to win the jackpot, they can opt for an immediate cash payment of US$904 million or receive the US$1.6 billion prize over 29 years.

The current jackpot beats the previous record, a US$1.586 billion jackpot for a Powerball drawing in 2016, said Seth Elkin, a spokesman for Mega Millions.

A Spanish lottery called El Gordo typically generates a larger purse than Mega Millions or Powerball, but that money is split between many different winners and no single prize in El Gordo approaches the size of the latest Mega Millions jackpot, Elkin said.

The 24 semi-weekly Mega Millions drawings have failed to produce a top winner since July 24, when an 11-member office pool in Santa Clara County, California, shared a US$543 million jackpot.

That is partly by design.

When lottery officials changed the rules for Mega Millions in October 2017 to shrink the odds of winning and increase ticket prices to US$2 from US$1, then-Mega Millions president Debbie Alford said the innovations would deliver “attention-grabbing jackpots” and generate increased revenues.

Leaders of the US lottery industry, which generates about US$80 billion in annual revenue, have experimented with different rules and marketing strategies as they have encountered falling interest among millennials, who are used to the almost-instant gratification of online games and social media.

Rule changes have also been made over the years to decrease the odds of winning the jackpot in Powerball, another popular multistate lottery.

If more than one winner is picked, the jackpot would be divided proportionately, as happened when the previous Mega Millions record of US$656 million was drawn in March 2012 and was shared by winners in Kansas, Illinois and Maryland, a lottery official said.

The top 10 US jackpots

1. US$1.5 billion, Powerball, January 13, 2016 (three tickets, from California, Florida, Tennessee)

2. US$758 million, Powerball, August. 23, 2017 (one ticket, from Massachusetts)

3. US$656 million, Mega Millions, March 30, 2012 (three tickets, from Kansas, Illinois and Maryland)

4. US$648 million, Mega Millions, December. 17, 2013 (two tickets, from California and Georgia)

5. US$590 million, Powerball, May 18, 2013 (one ticket, from Florida)

6. US$587.5 million, Powerball, November 28, 2012 (two tickets, from Arizona and Missouri)

7. US$564 million, Powerball, February 11, 2015 (three tickets, from North Carolina, Puerto Rico and Texas)

8. US$559.7 million, Powerball, January 6, 2018 (one ticket, New Hampshire)

9. US$543 million, Mega Millions, July 24, 2018 (one ticket, California)

10. US$536 million, Mega Millions, July 8, 2016 (one ticket, from Indiana)