US lottery jackpot grows to record $2.2b

ATLANTA • The US Mega Millions jackpot grew to US$1.6 billion (S$2.2 billion), a world record for a lottery, after last Friday's drawing produced no winner of the grand prize, officials said.

The next Mega Millions draw will be tomorrow, after no one hit all of the numbers 15, 23, 53, 65, 70 and the Mega Ball 7 last Friday.

"Mega Millions has already entered historic territory, but it's truly astounding to think that now the jackpot has reached an all-time world record," Mr Gordon Medenica, lead director of the Mega Millions Group, said in a statement.

The Mega Millions is coordinated by the Multi-State Lottery Association, along with several other lottery games, including one called Powerball.

The Mega Millions' odds were lowered a year ago to one in 303 million from one in 259 million, to generate larger prizes.

If a player hits all six numbers to win the jackpot, he can opt for an immediate cash payment of US$904 million or receive the US$1.6 billion prize over 29 years.

The current jackpot beats the previous record, a US$1.586 billion jackpot for a Powerball drawing in 2016, said Mr Seth Elkin, a spokesman for Mega Millions.

A Spanish lottery called El Gordo typically generates a larger purse than Mega Millions or Powerball, but that money is split between many winners and no single prize in El Gordo approaches the size of the latest Mega Millions jackpot, Mr Elkin added.

The 24 semi-weekly Mega Millions drawings have failed to produce a top winner since July 24, when an 11-member office pool in Santa Clara County, California, shared a US$543 million jackpot.

If more than one winner is picked, the jackpot would be divided proportionately.

This was what happened when the previous Mega Millions record of US$656 million was drawn in March 2012 and shared by winners in Kansas, Illinois and Maryland, a lottery official said.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 22, 2018, with the headline 'US lottery jackpot grows to record $2.2b'. Print Edition | Subscribe