Now this is a prize in search of a winner.

The Mega Millions jackpot rose $73 million to $325 million yesterday after no one matched all the numbers in Tuesday night's drawing: 3, 12, 19, 22, and 40, with a Mega Ball of 2.

The new prize is the fifth largest in U.S. lottery history and further proof that the bigger jackpots get, the more they jump when no one wins.

The last time anyone snagged the grand prize was July 7, when it reached $133 million and a New York City transit worker won.

The next drawing for Mega Millions - played in New Jersey, Maryland, and 10 other states - is tomorrow night.

The odds of winning are a staggering 1 in 176 million. And if no one wins, the jackpot is likely to be the first ever to top $400 million.

The $325 million up for grabs is the total for 26 payouts over 25 years. Can't wait? The cash windfall is $206.4 million - minus no small fortune in taxes.

New Jersey - Cape May County in particular - has had a role in the other two top Mega Millions jackpots.

In March 2007, when the lottery reached a record for any game of $390 million - up by $115 million from the previous drawing - Elaine and Harold Messner of Woodbine had one of the two winning tickets.

That August saw a $330 million prize won by four tickets, including one presented by John and Sandy Belawsky of Villas.

The biggest prize in Powerball, the multistate lottery game played in Pennsylvania and Delaware, was $365 million in February 2006. A group of workers at a Nebraska food plant claimed that jackpot.

It also had a $340 million prize in 2005, claimed in Oregon.

Last night's Powerball jackpot, however, was a relatively skimpy $25 million because Solomon Jackson Jr., a retired South Carolina state employee, hit last Wednesday's $260 million top prize.

Wouldn't it be nice to have his luck tomorrow night?

Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or