Mega Millions jackpot estimated at $330 million

Published 8:35 am Tuesday, January 4, 2011

RALEIGH – Lottery sales locally and statewide are expected to reach an all-time high today (Tuesday) in advance of tonight’s highly anticipated Mega Millions drawing.

No one matched the last drawing’s (Friday, Dec. 31) winning numbers, meaning the estimated jackpot for the Jan. 4 Mega Millions will be $330 million. The final size of the jackpot will be determined by ticket sales Monday and today (Tuesday), but it will be the first time the jackpot has exceeded $300 million in three and a half years.

If someone’s ticket matches the five white balls and the gold Mega Ball in Tuesday’s drawing, the winner would have a choice of claiming the $330 million jackpot as an annuity or getting a lump sum payment of $208.3 million. It is the highest Mega Millions jackpot since the N.C. Education Lottery joined the multi-state game on Jan. 31, 2010.

A $242 million jackpot on New Year’s Eve helped boost Mega Millions sales in North Carolina to the highest level yet. The NCEL recorded $1.9 million in Mega Millions tickets sales on Friday, Dec. 31.

“The education programs that we serve will see more lottery dollars because of this increase in sales,” said Alice Garland, acting executive director of the N.C. Education Lottery. “Our experience is that big jackpots not only attract folks who enjoy the Mega Millions game, but also capture the attention of those who only play the lottery occasionally and some who have never played before.”

To make the game more intriguing, North Carolina players who buy the $2 Megaplier ticket and match all five white balls automatically win $1 million.

Mega Millions drawings are held twice a week on Tuesday and Friday. The winning numbers are broadcast at 11 p.m. and are posted shortly afterward on the NCEL’s website. The game is played in 41 states and the District of Columbia.

Here are some key facts about the Mega Millions game according to information provided by the NC Education Lottery:

Last $300 million plus jackpot: $314 million on Aug. 25, 2007.

Biggest jackpot won in U.S.: $390 million on March 6, 2007 on two tickets, one in Georgia and one in New Jersey.

Last Mega Millions jackpot won: $141 million jackpot on Oct. 29, 2010 in Michigan.

Number of jackpots won that exceeded $300 million: Four.

Odds of matching numbers on five white balls and gold Mega Ball: 1 in 176 million

North Carolina Education Lottery net proceeds are used for pre-kindergarten programs for at-risk four-year-olds, reduction of class size in early grades, school construction and need-based college scholarships.

For prizes of $5,000 and greater, 25 percent federal tax and 7 percent state tax are automatically withheld.