And the Mega Millions winning numbers are …

Posted Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Biggest jackpots

Here’s a look at the top 10 record lottery jackpots in U.S. history.

1. $656.0 million, Mega Millions, March 30, 2012 (3 tickets from Kansas, Illinois and Maryland)

2. Estimated $636.0 million, Mega Millions, Tuesday (at least 2 winners)

3. $590.5 million, Powerball, May 18, 2013 (1 ticket from Florida)

4. $587.5 million, Powerball, Nov. 28, 2012 (2 tickets from Arizona and Missouri)

5. $448.4 million, Powerball, Aug. 7, 2013 (3 tickets from Minnesota and New Jersey)

6. $399.4 million, Powerball, Sept. 18, 2013 (1 ticket from South Carolina)

7. $390.0 million, Mega Millions, March 6, 2007 (2 tickets from Georgia and New Jersey)

8. $380.0 million, Mega Millions, Jan. 4, 2011 (2 tickets from Idaho and Washington)

9. $365.0 million, Powerball, Feb. 18, 2006 (1 ticket from Nebraska)

10. $363.0 million, The Big Game, May 9, 2000 (2 tickets from Illinois and Michigan)

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The numbers for the $636 million Mega Millions jackpot, the second-largest lottery jackpot in U.S. history, were drawn Tuesday night.

CNN.com reported that at least two people matched the winning numbers, according to lottery offiicals. One ticket was sold at a store in San Jose, Calif., and the other winning ticket was sold in Georgia. The number of winners was not known as of press time.

The winning numbers were: 8, 14, 17, 20, 39; Mega Ball: 7. The cash option is estimated at $341 million, before taxes.

The jackpot now trails only a $656 million Mega Millions pot that was won in March 2012.

Mega Millions changed its rules in October to help increase the jackpots by lowering the odds of winning the top prize. That means the chances of winning the jackpot are now about 1 in 259 million. It used to be about 1 in 176 million, nearly the same odds of winning a Powerball jackpot.

But that hasn’t stopped aspiring multimillionaires from playing the game.

“Oh I think there’s absolutely no way I am going to win this lottery,” said Tanya Joosten, 39, an educator at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee who bought several tickets on Tuesday. “But it’s hard for such a small amount of money to not take the chance.”

Annie Pedersen also said she wanted to be part of the action, so she jumped in and bought two tickets at a Milwaukee grocery.

“Everybody is so excited about it so I wanted to get in on some of the excitement, too, by watching,” she said.

Tickets were selling at a pace that surpassed even the lottery’s expectations.

“We estimate by drawing time we’ll be about $75 million ahead in sales,” said Paula Otto, executive director of the Virginia Lottery and lead director for Mega Millions.

Otto said officials expected about 70 percent of the possible number combinations to be purchased for Tuesday night’s drawing. She also noted that if a winner wasn’t selected either Tuesday night or for Friday’s drawing, the jackpot could hit $1 billion — an unheard-of amount for Mega Millions or Powerball, the nation’s two main lottery games.

Mega Millions is played in 43 states (including Texas), the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

So with such crazy odds against winning, what drives people to play, and what makes them think their $1 investment– among the many, many millions – will bring staggering wealth?

“It’s the same question as to why do people gamble,” said Stephen Goldbart, author of Affluence Intelligence and co-director of the Money, Meaning & Choices Institute in California. “It’s a desire to improve your life in a way that’s driven by fantasy. … The bigger the fantasy, the tastier it gets.”

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