Mega Millions jackpot climbs to $344M
UPDATE: The winning Mega Millions numbers selected Friday night are: 11-29-44-63-64. The Mega Ball was 3. The estimated jackpot for Tuesday's drawing is $344 million, according to megamillions.com
On Friday afternoon, Mega Millions, spurred by a lot of lottery fever, boosted the jackpot for that night's drawing to $297 million for the annuity, $158 million for the cash.
It was the second biggest jackpot for the game in more than two-and-a-half years, eclipsed only by the freakish $656 million annuity of March 2012, the all-time U.S. record.
Helping spur sales was that arch-rival Powerball cost twice as much ($2), while having a much smaller jackpot ($100 million). Powerball's next drawing is Saturday night.
Another major reason is Mega Millions' October overhaul, which greatly increased the chances of jackpots rolling over, by worsening the odds to 1 in 259 million, up from 1 in 175 million.
Per dollar, that's still better than Powerball, whose odds are 1 chance in 175 million per ticket.
If you like to choose your own numbers, be aware that Mega Millions added a bunch more -- the first five now go up to 75. The Mega Ball, on the other hand, now only goes up to 15.
Also know that ticket sales stop at 9:59 p.m., according to the Pennsylvania Lottery.
The bigger the jackpot the more people are willing to bet on a long shot, so if this jackpot rolls over, watch out.
On March 23, 2012, Mega Millions stood at $290 million, almost the same as the current jackpot. It rolled over to $356 million, and when that rolled over, skyrocketing sales boosted the top prize more than $300 million in just three days.
After that recond jackpot, though, changes in Powerball ($2 tickets, higher minimum jackpots, higher second-place prizes) produced the game's four biggest jackpots ever, including two over $580 million. Meanwhile, Mega Millions couldn't crack the $200 million mark.
The average jackpot for Powerball went way up, the average for Mega Millions declined.
The October revisions -- including higher minimum jackpots, new minimum jackpot increases and higher secondary prizes, including a possible $5 million windfall -- hoped to rectify the imbalance.
And apparently they have.
Results of the 11 p.m. Mega Millions drawing air locally on 6ABC at 11:25 p.m.
Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or email@example.com.