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As Players Dream, Lottery Has Already Reaped Big Profit

This article is more than 11 years old.

If you haven’t already purchased a Mega Millions ticket for Friday night’s drawing, what are you waiting for?

The world record-setting jackpot ballooned to $640 million on Friday, state officials said, with an estimated one-time payout of $460 million if one lucky winner is holding the right six-number combination. The potential payday has also been a boon for the Massachusetts State Lottery, which estimates it will sell over $30 million in tickets.

“No Lottery has ever seen anything like this,” Lottery spokeswoman Beth Bresnahan said Friday, commenting on the Mega Millions mania sweeping the nation.

Mega Millions is played in 42 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

With a one in 176 million chance of striking it rich, an estimated 95 percent of all number combinations have already been played with 1.3 billion tickets sold across the country, she said, making the odds high that at least one, and possibly multiple players, are already holding the scrap of paper that will make them multi-millionaires.

According to the state Lottery, if the top prize is not won on Friday night the jackpot for Tuesday’s drawing could grow to an estimated $975 million.

Before Tuesday’s drawing, the state Lottery had sold 20 million tickets at $1 apiece and it anticipates doing an extra $10 to $14 million in sales before the registers close at 10:45 p.m. at 7,400 licensed retailers across the state.

After taking out for prizes, overhead and other expenses, the Lottery expects to generate upwards of $14 million in net profit from the game, adding to the positive year for the agency, which is 5.9 percent, or $192 million, ahead of where it was last year in overall sales.

Since this jackpot’s first drawing on Jan. 24, Massachusetts Lottery players have won close to $4.3 million in lower-tier prizes, according to the Lottery. Friday night’s drawing will be the 19th drawing for the jackpot.

Contributing to the Lottery’s recent success has been the popularity of the new Lucky for Life games which carry the promise of $1,000 per day for life. Drawings for that game began on March 15.

While the Lottery did not have specific sales figures for the drawings, similar instant tickets that sell for $1, $2, $5, or $10 and carry different jackpot values for life have done $93.5 million in sales since hitting stores 36 days ago.

“It’s an extremely popular concept here. It’s the comfort of knowing that you’ll get a check for the rest of your life,” Bresnahan said.

To win the Mega Millions jackpot, a player must match all six numbers drawn. The odds of winning the jackpot are approximately one in 176 million.

The largest Mega Millions jackpot ever won was $390 million on March 6, 2007 split between two tickets sold in Georgia and New Jersey. The largest prize ever awarded to a Massachusetts Lottery player was a $294 million Mega Millions jackpot won on July 2, 2004 by Geraldine Williams of Lowell.

Jackpot winners have the option of receiving the prize in annual payments over a 26-year period or taking the cash in one lump sum, which is a lower amount than the advertised jackpot.

This program aired on March 30, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.


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