Because no one had the winning combination last night, the Mega Millions jackpot rocketed overnight to a record-breaking and astonishing purse of $476 million. That means millions of people will be watching Atlanta on Friday when the winning numbers are chosen at the WSB-TV studio. If you plan on purchasing a ticket for Friday’s drawing, here are some fun facts and a bit of history about Mega Millions.
About Mega Millions:
Mega Millions is America’s biggest jackpot game with jackpots starting at $12 million and other prizes ranging from $2 to $250,000. You can play Mega Millions in every state except Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Alaska and Hawaii. Mega Millions currently holds the record for the largest jackpot in North American history, which paid out $390 million in 2007. Two winners in Georgia and New Jersey split the payout.
History of Mega Millions:
The first drawing took place on September 6, 1996, with six states participating: Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan and Virginia. After exciting growth of the game in 1997, a Tuesday drawing was added in February 1998. Players were given a larger choice of numbers and a “cash payout” option in January 1999. In May 1999, New Jersey became the seventh member state.
In May 2002, the multi-state game was given the new name of “Mega Millions.” New York and Ohio became member states, and the game matrix and prize amounts were changed to offer players more excitement. In September 2002, Washington became the 10th member state, followed by Texas in December 2003. In June 2005, California became the 12th member, solidifying Mega Millions as the country’s most widely played multi-state jackpot game.
On January 31, 2010, 23 more state lotteries joined Mega Millions as an historic cross-selling agreement between Mega Millions and Powerball went into effect. With additional lotteries joining since then, Mega Millions is now played in 42 states plus the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Biggest Mega Millions Winners:
- 2007: $390 million (Georgia winner)
- 2011: $380 million
- 2009: $336 million
- 2007: $330 million
- 2011: $319 million
- 2005: $315 million
- 2004: $294 million
- 2008: $275 million (Georgia winner)
- 2006: $270 million
- 2010: $266 million
Where the Money Goes:
On average, 35% of all Mega Millions ticket sales support government services in the member state. Approximately 50% of every dollar wagered goes back to the players in prizes and 15% goes to retailer commissions and lottery operating costs.
Fun Facts about the $476 Million Drawing:
If you piled a stack of $1 bills, the cash windfall from the Mega Millions $476 million jackpot could start at the deepest part of the ocean and still tower above Mount Everest. The payout would take more than 600 years if paid at the rate of $1 per minute.
Georgia Lottery and Education:
Since its inception, the Georgia Lottery has paid out more than $13 billion to Georgia students through the HOPE Scholarship and Georgia Pre-K programs. As one of the most successful education initiatives in Georgia history, the lottery-funded HOPE (Helping Outstanding Pupils Educationally) Scholarship Program currently provides Georgia students with financial assistance for attendance at eligible Georgia colleges, universities, or technical colleges. More than $7 billion in lottery proceeds has been appropriated and distributed to more than 1.4 million HOPE Scholarship recipients. For more information about the Georgia HOPE Scholarship Program, visit www.gacollege411.org.
The Georgia HOPE Scholarship has had a bumpy road lately. In 2011, Gov. Nathan deal announced that it could face bankruptcy in 2013. He introduced legislation that was aimed to save the Pre-K and HOPE programs for future generations. Gov. Deal enacted the Zell Miller Scholarship Program for the highest achievers and reduced the standard tuition coverage to 90%. He also eliminated funds for books, funding for remedial classes and capped eligible hours at 127.
Reaction to Mega Millions in Atlanta:
Many Atlanta parents took a chance by buying a ticket for last night’s Mega Millions lottery. With Friday’s drawing soaring to $476 million, many more will take yet another chance. Mary Perkins, mother of three from Snellville says, “I can’ even imagine that much money. It would be great not to have to worry about saving for college.” Dad Terry Giamatti adds, “Someone has to win this time. That’s crazy money. You’d win enough to help out a lot of people with that.”
Kids from Atlanta also weighed in on winning $476 million. 7-year-old Jeff Boyton from Tucker exclaims, “I’d get an Xbox and a Playstation 3 and a gazillion games. Oh, and I’d buy my family a huge house with a treehouse and swiming pool.” His younger sister Karina adds, “I’d take all my friends to American Doll and Build-A-Bear. They could get as much as they want.”
So, all eyes will be on Atlanta this Friday at 11:00 p.m. when the numbers are announced for the Mega Millions $475 jackpot. The cash option is $341 million. You can buy tickets in Atlanta until 10:45 p.m.
Do you have your winning ticket yet?
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