The Mega Millions jackpot is $1 billion. What to know before you buy a ticket

January 25, 2021

At some point, whether on Friday night, January 22, or sometime later, on the buyer of one Mega Millions lottery ticket is going to win an insanely high jackpot.

It just probably won’t be you, CNBC reports. For Mega Millions, you have about a 1 in 302 million chance of winning the jackpot.

With the odds stacked against players matching all six numbers needed to hit the mother lode, the lottery game’s top prize has been increased to $1.0 billion (or $739..6 million in cash).

This only the third time in its history that a lotto jackpot has gone so high, Mega Millions says in a press release. The largest jackpot in U.S. history—a $1.59 billion Powerball prize in 2016—was split three ways.

“We know that players love big jackpots, and when the numbers are this big, it becomes a national phenomenon,” said Gordon Medenica, Maryland lottery director and lead director of Mega Millions.

“Everyone wants to dream about what they’d do if they won.”

The Mega Millions jackpot has been climbing since mid-September, when someone scored $120 million ($95.4 million cash) and the top prize reset to $20 million. That’s 37 weeks of no one matching all six numbers in twice-weekly drawings, marking the longest stretch ever with no winner, according to lottery officials.

However, CNBC cautions, Even if you buy multiple tickets, you wouldn’t move the needle much. To give yourself even a 50-50 chance of winning the Mega Millions jackpo—i.e., the same odds when you flip a coin once—you’d have to buy more than 151 million different number combinations. Even then, you wouldn’t be able to guarantee that you’re the only winner.

For the drawing this weekend, lottery officials estimate that 40% of all possible number combinations will be played.

Of course, you can win in the game without hitting the jackpot. The last Mega Millions drawing, held Tuesday night, produced nearly 5.2 million winning tickets, according to lottery data. That included two winners of $2 million each, 11 winners of $1 million each and 139 winners who nabbed at least $10,000.

Once the Mega Millions jackpot is won, it will reset to $20 million.

Research contact: @CNBC

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