Tuesday's Mega Millions jackpot jumps to $355 million

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- The jackpot for Tuesday nnight's Mega Millions drawing was a staggering $355 million, making it the biggest grand prize since the multi-state lottery game came to Arizona last spring.

Tuesday's winning numbers are: 4, 8, 15, 25, 47 and the Mega number is 42.

Earlier in the morning the jackpot had been estimated at $330 million. According to the Arizona Lottery, it jumped to $355 million at about 10 a.m.

Jackpot estimates are usually somewhat conservative because lottery officials do not want the  prize total to be less than the estimate. The actual jackpot can be more than the estimate once all the tickets sales are tallied.

The current $355 million jackpot is not far behind the Mega Millions record jackpot of $390 million in March 2007. That jackpot, the largest in U.S. history, was split between two players in Georgia and New Jersey. Both winners chose a lump-sum payment of $116,957,083.

The second-biggest lottery jackpot in U.S. history was a Powerball drawing for $365 million in February 2006. A group of ConAgra Food workers split that prize.

The last time somebody won the Mega Millions grand prize was Nov. 9. The jackpot for the next drawing and has rolled over 15 times since then.

To win the Mega Millions game, players must match a total of six numbers -- five regular numbers plus the Mega Ball.

The cash option for tonight's huge prize is about $224 million before taxes.

According to ChaCha.com, $200 million could buy you 5.3 million Big Macs, 900 Bentleys, 666,666 PlayStation 3s or around 18,700,000 shares of CLMS.

Chances of winning the grand prize are about 1 in 176 million. In comparative terms, you have a better chance of being struck by lighting some time during your life. The odds of that are 1 in 6,250.

Matching just the first five numbers in a Mega Millions draw will win you $250,000. Odds of winning that prize are about 1 in 3.9 million.

There are nine levels of payouts in the Mega Millions game. The first, matching just the Mega Ball, is $2. Your chance of winning any Mega Millions prize is 1 in 40.

According to the Arizona Lottery website, the 10 most-drawn numbers in the Mega Millions game are 12, 13, 20, 10, 11, 2, 18, 19, 26 and 28. The five least-drawn numbers are 25, 49, 51, 5 and 22. The most-drawn gold ball (the Mega Ball) is 25; the least-drawn gold ball is 3.

Tickets are $1, and drawings are held every Tuesday and Friday.

You have until 7:59 p.m. to buy a ticket for tonight's drawing.

If nobody wins the big prize tonight, the jackpot will likely jump to more than $400 million for the first time ever. That would be the biggest lottery prize in the world.

Mega Millions is played in 40 other states and the District of Columbia.

What would you do if you won the Mega Millions jackpot? Tell us below!