Mega Millions Rises to $135M as Dec. 13 Jackpot Unclaimed; Tuesday's Winning Numbers

The Mega Millions multi-state lottery hit $100 million last Friday, Dec. 9, $116 million on Tuesday, Dec. 13, and now it is estimated to be $135 million for this Friday's jackpot, as Tuesday's jackpot was not won.

Friday's drawing is estimated to be worth $135 million, when taken in 26 annual installments, as an annuity. If a winner opts for the cash payout, instead, as many do, the total would be $98.9 million. [Just as with other lotteries with annuity or cash payouts, the jackpot amounts differ because, with the annuity option, the interest accrued by the money as it sits waiting for its annual payouts is used to generate part of the jackpot. Thus, taking it all at once, in cash, reduces the amount.]

The winning Mega Millions numbers for Tuesday, December 13, 2011 were 6, 41, 26, 22, 5, and 6 as the mega ball. Although no one won the big jackpot, the following list shows the number of winners and amounts for other ticket matches:

5 + 0 (mega): 8 $250,000
4 + 1: 61 $10,000
4 + 0: 2,370 $150
3 + 1: 2,911 $150
2 + 1: 46,150 $10
3 + 0: 124,196 $7
1 + 1: 269,026 $3
0 + 1: 476,505 $2

Mega Millions uses what is called a double matrix to determine winners. Ticket buyers select 5 numbers from a 1-56 grid (those come from a machine that spews out white balls) and one number out of a separate 1-46 matrix (those come out of a machine that spews out gold balls, and that is called the Mega Ball Number). Since the Mega Ball number is drawn from a separate machine, it can be a duplicate of one of the white ball numbers. This is similar to most other systems that use a double matrix, such as California's Super Lotto and the Powerball multi-state jackpot.

There are currently 43 jurisdictions included in the game. Of those, 42 offer the option that is called the Megaplier. If a player doubles down a their wager of $1, they can activate the Megaplier option, which gives them an opportunity to multiply any NON-jackpot prize by 2, 3, or 4. This option is not yet offered in California. The Megaplier is drawn by the Texas Lottery (before the cross-sell expansion on January 31, 2010, it was the ONLY lottery to offer Megaplier) through the use of a random number generator.

Mega Millions' largest "annuity" jackpot was $390 million for the March 6, 2007 drawing. Two tickets won; one each from Georgia and New Jersey. Both sets of winners chose the cash payout option, splitting $233.1 million.

The largest cash jackpot was $240 million, for the January 4, 2011 drawing. However, because of more favorable interest rates used to calculate the 2007 annuity, that drawing was only the second largest annuity jackpot, at $380 million. Once again, two tickets, one each from Post Falls, Idaho, and Ephrata, Washington, matched all six winning numbers. Again, the holders of the winning tickets opted for the cash option.

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