Mega Millions Jackpot Climbs to $344M

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With the rollover of the MEGA MILLIONS jackpot, Lottery Fever is in full swing.

The Mega Millions jackpot on Friday went unclaimed, making the new jackpot a whopping $297 million for the annuity, $158 million for the cash. It's the second largest jackpot in 2 years, just behind the big $656 million annuity of March 2012, the all-time U.S. record.

Could the reason it jumped so high so quick have anything to do with the Powerball jackpot being lower, and more expensive? Powerball tickets cost $2.00 each and the payoff - only $100 million dollars.

People want those big payouts, obviously. Or, maybe it is for other reasons - after all, Mega Millions' October overhaul has increased the chances of jackpots rolling over, by worsening the odds to 1 in 259 million, up from 1 in 175 million. Better odds than Powerball has though, per dollar, those odds are 1 chance in 175 million per ticket.

And, if you have numbers you normally play - Mega Millions added a bunch more options. The first five now go up to 75. The Mega Ball, on the other hand, now only goes up to 15.

In March 2012, Mega Millions stood at $290 million. It then rolled over to $356 million, and when it rolled over again it sent sales skyrocketing, bringing the top prize to more than $300 million in just three days.

The October overhauls include higher minimum jackpots, new minimum jackpots increased and higher secondary prizes, including a possible $5 million windfall.

Mega Millions, the game that holds the record for the largest jackpot in North American history, began on August 31,1996 as the Big Game. The first drawing took place on September 6, 1996, with six states participating: Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan and Virginia.

Results of the 11 p.m. Mega Millions drawing can be seen on 6ABC at 11:25 p.m., or for those not local, at the Mega Millions website, or local news.

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