OMAHA, Neb. – Someone could win more than half a billion dollars in the Mega Millions lottery Tuesday, but that jackpot wouldn't even rank in the top 10 as the prizes have grown bigger in recent years.
The current Mega Millions has been building since Oct. 14 as 20 drawings passed without a winner, but the estimated $565 million prize pales in comparison to the record $2.04 billion Powerball jackpot that was won in November by someone in Southern California.
The ten biggest lottery jackpots ever are all bigger than $687 million with all of those coming since 2016. The largest Mega Millions jackpot ever was more than $1.5 billion, won in 2018, and a jackpot surpassing $1.3 billion was won in Illinois in July.
And Tuesday’s top prize of $565 million is for the annuity option that is paid out annually over 29 years. The cash option would pay $293.6 million.
Tuesday’s drawing will be held at 11 p.m. EST when players will try to match six winning numbers.
When the jackpots grow this large more people buy tickets, increasing the chances that someone will win.
David Peralta, a 67-year-old retired technical college instructor, bought a $3 jackpot-only Mega Millions ticket at a Dillons grocery in Topeka, Kansas, because he had a few extra dollars and “to see if we get lucky.” He buys a few tickets regularly and said the jackpot attracted him, though he said he’s not sure he needs that much money.
“I could help out a lot of people,” he said.
But the odds of winning remain long at one in 302.6 million, and the jackpot will continue growing if no one wins Tuesday's drawing. The odds improve slightly by buying multiple tickets, but even buying 100 tickets would only give you a 100 in 302.6 million chance.
But lottery officials say the $2 tickets offer an affordable way to daydream about a life-changing prize.
Mega Millions is played in every state except Nevada, Utah, Alabama, Alaska and Hawaii plus the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Associated Press writer John Hanna contributed to this story from Topeka, Kansas.