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Single ticket wins world record $1.6 billion Mega Millions jackpot

Posted at 4:40 AM, Oct 24, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-24 07:12:26-04

One winning ticket was sold for the world record Mega Millions jackpot of an estimated $1.6 billion. It was purchased in South Carolina.

The six winning numbers were drawn Tuesday night.

Early Wednesday morning, Mega Millions tweeted the news:

South Carolina Education Lottery spokesperson Holli Armstrong told CBS News officials aren’t releasing the address yet of the outlet that sold the winner — or even the city or county. She cited “security procedures.”

Tickets had to match all five white balls from Tuesday night and the yellow Mega Ball to claim total victory.

In addition to the winner, the Mega Millions website says 36 tickets matched the five white balls to claim $1 million apiece. They were bought in 17 states and the District of Columbia. The Texas winner and one in Florida included the optional Megaplier, so those two tickets are worth $3 million each.

Mega Millions winning numbers

  • 5, 28, 62, 65, 70 and Mega Ball 5
  • Megaplier 3x

The jackpot’s estimated cash value was $913 million, an option favored by most winners. Otherwise, the jackpot is doled out over 29 years.

If no one had matched Tuesday’s numbers, officials say the next drawing would have been for an estimated $2 billion jackpot.

It will be held Friday night but for an estimated $40 million jackpot.

The Mega Millions jackpot has been soaring since July, when a group of office workers in California won $543 million.

Mega Millions has more than 302 million possible number combinations. Lottery officials had expected to sell 75 percent of them by Tuesday night’s drawing, when Mega Millions host John Crow announced the winning numbers.

“A million dollars is life changing. But a billion dollars is extraordinary,” Crow told CBS News. “So that excitement, that enthusiasm that is generating right now is what’s great about this jackpot.”

Mega Millions tickets are $2 and are sold in 44 states, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Officials say the previous record Mega Millions jackpot was $656 million, which was shared by winners in Kansas, Illinois and Maryland. The drawing was on March 30, 2012.

The other previous biggest jackpots, both for Powerball, were $1.586 billion, which was matched in January 2016 by three tickets, from California, Florida, Tennessee, and $758.7 million, won by a single ticket holder, from Massachusetts, in August 2017.

Powerball will hold its drawing Wednesday night for a jackpot estimated at $620 million or a cash value of $354.3 million.

It will probably be days or even weeks before a winner steps forward to claim the prize, The Associated Press points out, adding that, “Lottery officials and financial managers encourage people to take time to map out a strategy for investing their hundreds of millions of dollars, and winners must deal with security concerns befitting someone who suddenly is immensely wealthy. Depending on the state, winners have from 180 days to a year to claim their prize.”

Winners can stay anonymous in eight states, including South Carolina, but in the rest, winners’ names are made public.

The size of Tuesday’s jackpot is part of a trend toward bigger and bigger ones that took hold when Mega Millions and Powerball changed their rules and made the odds longer seeking better sales, the AP notes.

Odds of winning

The odds of winning a jackpot remain abysmal at 1 in 302.5 million for Mega Millions and 1 in 292.2 million for Powerball.

Who buys lotto tickets?

About two-thirds of Americans gamble. Last year, they spent $72.97 billion on traditional lottery tickets, according to Gallup.

On average, that’s $206.69 per person. “Our obsession with lotteries, with gambling, is that unicorn feeling of, like, ‘Maybe it’ll be me,”‘ CBS News business analyst Jill Schlesinger said.

She points out that some people don’t necessarily play to win.

“They just want to take a moment out of their day to consider how to dream big,” Schlesinger said.

The average American spends about $223 per year on lottery tickets, according to a survey from LENDedu. Massachusetts residents have the biggest taste for playing the odds, spending almost $763 per year on lottery tickets, the study found. North Dakotans are on the opposite end of the spectrum, spending about $44 per year on the lottery, or the lowest average figure among residents of all 50 states.