Would-be billionaires flocked to gas stations and convenience stores across the nation in the hopes of defying astronomical — to put it lightly — odds and cashing in on the $1 billion Mega Millions jackpot.
Friday’s colossal prize is the third-highest lottery jackpot in U.S. history and the second-highest Mega Millions total, according to the Mega Millions website. The game’s big prize was last won in Wisconsin in September.
Friday’s winning numbers were 4, 26, 42, 50, 60 and Mega Ball 24. It wasn’t immediately clear if anyone won, though the interest in the winning numbers was obvious — the Mega Millions website was unresponsive around 11 p.m. Eastern, when the numbers were supposed to be announced.
The fifth-largest lottery jackpot in the country’s history was claimed Wednesday. The $731.1 million Powerball jackpot was won in Maryland, with a cash-only payout for that massive prize worth $546 million.
The winning numbers in Tuesday’s $865 million Mega Millions drawing were 10, 19, 26, 28, 50 and Mega Ball 16. The cash-only lump sum was $638.8 million. Eleven tickets matched five numbers, according to the Mega Millions website, including a pair of $2 million winners in Florida.
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The odds of someone winning the Mega Millions are 1 in 302,575,350.
Statisticians in various news reports tried to encapsulate the long odds of winning Friday’s coveted jackpot. Ronald L. Wasserstein, executive director of the American Statistical Association, told USA TODAY, “Humans are not naturally equipped to understand such big numbers.”
Steven Bleiler, a mathematics and statistics professor at Portland State University, told the Associated Press people should imagine a swimming pool 40 feet wide, 120 feet long and 5 feet deep, filled with M&Ms, only one of which is green. To win, all a player must do is jump in blindfolded and wade around until finding the single green M&M.
Or perhaps try Wasserstein’s example: Stand on the corner of a football field and start laying out dollar bills until you’ve placed 302,575,350 of them: That’ll take up about 585 football fields, he said.
Contributing: Ryan W. Miller and Elinor Aspegren, USA TODAY; The Associated Press.