DES MOINES, Iowa — One of the largest jackpots in U.S. lottery history climbed even higher Saturday after no ticket matched all six numbers to win the $425 million top Mega Millions prize.
With the Friday the 13th drawing failing to produce any winner lucky enough to claim the fifth-biggest jackpot ever, officials raised the amount to $550 million for Tuesday's drawing. That now ranks as the fourth-biggest.
Paula Otto, the Virginia Lottery's executive director and Mega Millions' lead director, told The Associated Press early Saturday that she expects the amount to rise even higher before the drawing. It could approach or surpass the largest Mega Millions jackpot ever claimed, $656 million in March 2012. Had someone won Friday, it would have been that game's second-highest prize.
"We've never had a jackpot at this level in December leading into the holidays," Otto said. "If we keep rolling, we could well be at a billion dollars going into Christmas."
But each time the lottery fails to produce a jackpot, as it now has 21 straight times on this run, the pot gets even larger. That increases the number of tickets sold while decreasing the chances that nobody will win.
Otto said after $167 million in sales of mostly $1 tickets since the previous drawing on Tuesday, the odds of someone picking all the winning numbers Friday were about 50-50. They'll almost certainly be even higher next Tuesday and even higher in subsequent drawings should the jackpot still go unclaimed.
A winner from Friday night's drawing would have had a cash option of $228 million before taxes. The winning numbers were: 19-24-26-27-70, Mega Ball: 12.
Although nobody hit the biggest prize, nine people nabbed $1 million prizes for matching the first five numbers. Those tickets were sold in Colorado, Connecticut, New Jersey and two apiece in Florida, Michigan and New York, Otto said.