Mega Millions lottery jackpot rises again, hitting $1.28 billion for Friday drawing

The Mega Millions jackpot has continued to climb this week and hit a staggering $1.28 billion ahead of Friday night’s drawing — with a $747.2 million cash option.

Friday’s Mega Millions jackpot is the second-highest prize in the game’s history, as currently estimated. It also stands as the nation’s third-largest lottery prize ever. 

A $1.586 billion Powerball game in 2016 was split between the buyers of three winning tickets, and a $1.54 billion Mega Millions prize in 2018 went to the buyer of a single ticket.

The lottery grand prize on Thursday reached an estimated $1.1 billion with a $648.2 million cash option after hitting $1.02 billion on Wednesday. The latest jackpot estimation has grown so large because no one has matched the game’s six selected numbers since April 15. That’s 29 consecutive drawings without a big winner.

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What time is the Mega Millions drawing?

Mega Millions drawings are held on Tuesday and Friday. 

They happen at 11 p.m. ET.


A person buys a Mega Millions lottery ticket at a store on July 29, 2022 in Arlington, Virginia. (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)

How to play Mega Millions

Five white balls are drawn from a set of balls numbered 1 through 70, and one gold Mega Ball is drawn from a set of balls numbered 1 through 25. Players win if the numbers on one row of a ticket match the numbers of the balls drawn on that date.

Mega Millions tickets cost $2 per play. Players win the jackpot by matching all six numbers in a drawing. If no one wins the jackpot, the money is added to the jackpot for the next drawing.

For those lucky enough to become a Mega Millions jackpot winner, they get the choice of a cash option or an annual payout. The annuity option means getting an initial payment followed by 29 annual payments, and each payment is 5% larger than the previous one. For those that select the cash option, they receive a one-time, lump-sum payment that is equal to all the cash in the Mega Millions jackpot prize pool after taxes.

Where to buy Mega Millions tickets

Mega Millions is played in 45 U.S. states plus the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands. 

The official website has a map where individuals can click to go to their individual state’s lottery website. From there, you can find more information about tickets and retailers currently selling them. 

Odds of winning the Mega Millions

The odds of winning the Mega Millions jackpot prize is roughly 1 in 302,575,350, lottery officials said. But a player’s overall chance of winning any prize is 1 in 24.

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This story was reported from Cincinnati.