The jackpot reached $1 billion after there were no winners from the drawing on Tuesday. In fact, there has not been a jackpot winner since a winning ticket was sold in Wisconsin on Sept. 15. It is the longest ever jackpot run for the game, with 37 drawings. This is only the third time any lottery jackpot has reached $1 billion, and the first since Mega Millions reached $1.537 billion in October 2018. The record-holder is a Powerball jackpot at $1.586 billion in January 2016.
Since millions of Americans likely bought tickets for the Mega Millions drawing, the odds of winning the jackpot are incredibly slim. The odds are 1 in 302,575,350, according to the Mega Millions website. In fact, you have better odds of being struck by lightning, notes CNN. The odds of being struck are about 1 in 500,000, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates. You also have better odds at becoming a movie star. The Book of Odds author Amram Shapiro estimates the odds of becoming a Hollywood A-lister are about 1 in 1,190,000.
Mega Millions is played in 45 states, and Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Nevada, and Utah are the only states where it is not played. Mississippi was the last state to join the game in January 2020.
An anonymous South Carolina resident won the massive 2018 jackpot and chose to take a one-time payment of $877,784,124. It is the largest payout to a single winner in U.S. lottery history, officials said at the time, reports ABC News. The winning ticket was sold between Oct. 20 and 3, 2018 at a convenience store in Simpsonville, a Greenville, South Carolina suburb with about 22,000 residents. The store owner, C.J. Patel, was set to receive a $50,000 commission for selling the winning ticket before taxes.
The reason for the Mega Millions and Powerball jackpots climbing to astronomically high numbers so far is due to fast ticket sales. "This is an indicator that sales nationally are strong because the jackpot is based on sales, so when you see an adjustment that just means that a lot of people are playing and are interested in taking a chance on the jackpot," Holli Armstrong, Communications Coordinator with the South Carolina Lottery, explained to WCBD earlier this month.