Mega Millions jackpot tops $1 billion for third time ever

The Mega Millions jackpot surpassed $1 billion for only the third time in its history after no one won the total in the drawing Tuesday night. 

The $1.025 billion jackpot is the fourth-largest prize in U.S. lottery history. The excitement surrounding the jackpot was so large that the Mega Millions website went down for more than two hours on Tuesday, according to a press release. 

A winner can choose an annuity option, receiving payments over 30 years, or a cash option, which will win them about $602.5 million, the release states. 

The next drawing is scheduled for Friday. 

The jackpot is just short of the $1.05 billion won in Michigan last January. Mega Millions’ largest jackpot was $1.537 billion, the largest amount ever won from a single lottery ticket in the world. The recipient won the money in South Carolina in October of 2018.

Although no one has won the grand total yet, many have won smaller prizes since the last time the jackpot was won on April 15. One ticket sold in Ohio earned the winner $3 million, while eight others with winning Match 5 tickets won $1 million. 

Mega Millions has made 29 drawings and more than 28 million winning tickets at all prize levels since the last jackpot win, which happened in Tennessee. That includes 42 winning tickets worth at least $1 million. 

Ohio Lottery Director Pat McDonald, who serves as the lead director of the Mega Millions Consortium, said seeing the jackpot build over the past few months and rise above $1 billion is “truly breathtaking.” 

“We encourage customers to keep play in balance and enjoy the ride,” he said. “Someone is going to win.” 

Mega Millions is played in 45 states, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands, according to Mega Millions’ website. 

The odds of winning the jackpot are about 1 in 300 million, while the odds of winning at least $1 million are about 1 in 12.6 million.