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Posted at 11:54 PM ET, 01/ 4/2011

Mega Millions winning numbers drawn

By Washington Post editors

UPDATED, 1:45 a.m. Wednesday: Yeah, you probably have to go to work today. The winning numbers for the $355 million jackpot are 4, 8, 15, 25, 47, and the Mega Ball number is 42. Two winners from Washington state and Idaho split the big jackpot, while someone from Virginia took home a $250,000 prize. No names have been revealed yet.

Lottery players trying to check the numbers overwhelmed the Mega Millions Web site soon after the 11 p.m. drawing. Mega Millions later said that it "temporarily minimized" the Web site -- providing access only to a page showing the winning numbers -- because of the "unprecedented traffic."

The Mega Millions jackpot drawing Tuesday is worth an estimated $335 million. (Michael Bolden)

EARLIER (by the Associated Press): The clock is ticking down to the Mega Millions jackpot drawing at 11 p.m. Tuesday worth an estimated $330 million.

The cash option is a staggering $208.3 million.

The game is similar to Powerball — players try to win by matching five regular numbers plus the "Mega ball." Tickets cost $1. Tickets can be purchased in Maryland, Virginia and the District.

Besides the jackpot, prizes range from $2 to $250,000. Drawings are held every Tuesday and Friday night.

So what are the odds? At least 1 in 179 million, according to the Indianapolis Star. See how the odds stack up to other probabilities:

Having twins 1:33
Rolling snake eyes 1:36
Being audited by the IRS 1:100
Dating a supermodel 1:88,000
Being killed by a spider 1:381,114
Drawing a royal flush in five cards 1:649,740
Being killed by fireworks 1:952,786
Being attacked by a shark 1:11.5M

(Sources: Hollinger Power Rankings, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Safety Council, Florida Museum of Natural History, Tax Law and Business Organization Strategy, 'Life: The Odds and How to Improve Them',

The D.C. Lottery lists where to play in Washington.

The largest Mega Millions jackpot was $390 million in 2007. The prize was shared by two players in Georgia and New Jersey.

For a look back at some recent lottery winners, see our stories about a USA Today reporter, who won $9 million in the Va. lottery and the mystery surrounding the winner of a 2009 Powerball drawing.

A local winner could mean a windfall for the area's ailing governments.

YOUR TAKE: How would you use the winnings to improve your community?

How would you use the $330 million jackpot to fix up your community? What changes would you make? Tell us by tweeting or sending a "twit pic" to @PostLocal using #megafixit.

We'll post the best ones back here.

By Washington Post editors  | January 4, 2011; 11:54 PM ET
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And the winner will be:
Either someone very very elderly who purchases a ticket every four or five years; someone who's bought his first ticket; or someone extremely wealthy.
Or, one of my favorites, is someone who directly works for someone very rich who will say (as happened when one very wealthy person's housekeeper or maid won several years ago), "She really deserves it; she's been hard working all her life and underappreciated and could use the money to help her family.

Or, it will be someone like the Virginia couple who, in the words of the husband after they took home $39 million after deductions, "We're going to buy our daughter a used car and get her daughter some toys."

Or, it will be like the man who recently won about $75 million dollars, photographed in his logo'ed baseball cap, who said, "I just bought a used car for $1,000 so I'm gonna try to pay it off and pay off some bills."

Or...the generic, "I'm gonna pay some of my bills...and maybe take a trip." Which leads me to ask, "Do you really have that much in the way of bills?" Do you really have any comprehension - ANY comprehension - of how much money that is?"

Posted by: Dungarees | January 4, 2011 12:12 PM | Report abuse

I get that mathematically it is possible for a jackpot to be large enough to make the expected value of a ticket more than the $1 that it costs. But I still don't know why anybody would buy more than one ticket.

Like the picture is of somebody who bought 20 tickets. Do people really see that much of a difference between a 1 in 175 million chance and a 20 in 175 million chance?

Posted by: Booyah5000 | January 4, 2011 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Nobody ever wins in MD.... I am convinced that we in MD just contribute tot he payout while the state collects their cut of the purchase of the ticket.

Posted by: rvanags | January 4, 2011 1:14 PM | Report abuse

I'm waiting for a winner who has an MBA and actually knows what to do with the money.

And why isn't the first expenditure a retainer fee for a top notch tax attorney.

Posted by: johnnycomelately1 | January 4, 2011 1:44 PM | Report abuse


You are correct about it being theoretically possible for the jackpot to be sufficiently high that the expected value of the ticket is greater than the purchase price. However, one would have to use the actual cash value (i.e. the present value) - not the stated jackpot value - in doing the calculation, since the stated value is the nominal value of the annual payments (i.e. the future value).

So in order for the expected value of a $1 ticket to be greater than the purchase price, the stated value of the jackpot would have to be sufficiently high that the actual cash value would be greater than $175,711,536 (since the odds of hitting the jackpot are approximately 1 in 175,711,536.

Posted by: dfl1 | January 4, 2011 2:02 PM | Report abuse

People who buy lottery tickets are so stupid and ignorant, it boggles the mind.

Posted by: kenk33 | January 4, 2011 2:19 PM | Report abuse

The expected value of the ticket is actually lower than the purchase price because it is possible for there to be multiple jackpot winners, which would result in a split of the jackpot.

Posted by: postisarag | January 4, 2011 2:21 PM | Report abuse

People who buy lottery tickets are so stupid and ignorant, it boggles the mind.
Posted by: kenk33 | January 4, 2011 2:19 PM

Except the one that wins :-)

Posted by: DCLeisurist | January 4, 2011 2:24 PM | Report abuse

my new year's resolution is to not eat candy and use all that money to buy lotto tickets.

when I win the lotto, then I will buy a candy factory and eat myself to death.

Posted by: fatfreddie | January 4, 2011 2:25 PM | Report abuse

For my kids, $1000 a day allowance - if they use bad language, $500 in the potty mouth jar!

Posted by: DontGetIt | January 4, 2011 2:36 PM | Report abuse

I'm waiting for a winner who has an MBA and actually knows what to do with the money.

And why isn't the first expenditure a retainer fee for a top notch tax attorney.

Posted by: johnnycomelately1 | January 4, 2011 1:44 PM |

Didn't that actually happen within the last couple years? A guy in DC or MD won and it was a big secret for several weeks while he hired an attorney and set up a trust, the whole nine yards. That guy did it right.

As for me, I'd do the same thing, but my goals for the money - $200 million, say - would be to take about $40 million to provide a very comfortable life for myself and my family (starting with houses paid off, nieces' and nephew's college paid for), and using the rest to set up a charitable foundation. Then I'd hire my friends at a reasonable salary to be on the board of directors with me, and we'd all decide what causes we'd donate to.

Posted by: financepirate | January 4, 2011 3:05 PM | Report abuse

It's entertainment - loosen up.

Posted by: johnfchick1 | January 4, 2011 3:07 PM | Report abuse

When I was little, I wanted to grow up and make alot of money so I could start a college scholarship fund. No joke.

Still trying to figure out how to do it with what I'm making.

After paying my own college bills, I'd work on how to fund others.

Posted by: capecodner424 | January 4, 2011 3:23 PM | Report abuse

If I won, I'd use about $75 million to produce a Hollywood movie staring Tom Selleck, Kate Beckinsale and Cheryl Cole. Then I'd hang out on the set all day, sexually harassing Kate & Cheryl and talking guns & politics with Tom. They'd all have to put up with me, because I'd be the one paying their salaries.

Posted by: pmendez | January 4, 2011 3:28 PM | Report abuse

I got really tired of hearing myself say, "When I win the lottery, I'm going to...." So I subscribed to Mega Millions. $2/week. I do nothing. I pay $26 every 3 months, and they mail me a check if I win. So far, I've won $4 after starting in October. I don't care if I don't ever win it big (although I would LOVE to win tonight or any night, for that matter). It's a $104 per year feeling of "making my own luck." People who win the lottery aren't lucky - they're just willing to spend $1 on a wish. And I also feel like I'm contributing to education and to helping make other people's wishes come true. It's hokey, I know.

Posted by: whatrocks9 | January 4, 2011 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Hmm...after paying what little debt I have, I would build a house, using green tech.

Then I would do it for my Mom and brother.

Then I would set up college fund for 4 nephews.

And then...I would renovate the houses of all my friends with same green tech.

And THEN...I would hire a top-notch PR firm to promote green tech, and provide grants for further encouragement...

After all, in the end, you can't take it with you, so you may as well spend it.

Posted by: taroya | January 4, 2011 4:51 PM | Report abuse

I have subscribed to Mega Millions for about ten years. I pay $104 per year ($52 every six months), and play the same 6 numbers each drawing. I avoid the long lines when the jackpot grows to $300+ million like it has today. Twice, I have won $150 (4 numbers), just missing $10,000 (4 + mega ball) in 2007 because my mom was born on the 31st and not the 30th. And, any small winnings ($2, $7, $10), Mega Millions mails you a check at subscription renewal time. The $104 per year I pay to play the same 6 numbers every drawing is the only gambling I do, and the money IS used for state education.

I am a tax professional (25+ years), and already know what I would do to mitigate the tax hit. But, people should also understand that the lump sum cash option of $208.3 million for one winner tonight is BEFORE taxes, and the lottery people only withhold 25% federal and 4% state taxes, but such a large sum will be taxeable at much higher rates (35% federal and anywhere from 4 to 10% state, depending on where the winner is located). And so prudent tax planning will be necessary.

Posted by: Nick5 | January 4, 2011 5:17 PM | Report abuse

It's $355M now.

Posted by: SportzNut21 | January 4, 2011 6:21 PM | Report abuse

When I finish with this library public computer I'm going to get me 3 Mega Millions tickets, at random only---I always let the machine pick the numbers---I'm not good at numerology (psychically)! Like the Maryland Lottery spokesman said years ago: "It only takes one ticket to win & never spend more money than you can afford to lose!" & that's all I have in my purse right now!

Posted by: gailschumacher | January 4, 2011 6:22 PM | Report abuse

For those who think that people who buy a ticket are "stupid and ignorant"...

"In a World where a a cup of coffee costs $2 ..." (ha ha)

I don't think that paying $1 to be able to dream about what you would do if you won $100M is that bad. I rarely ever play myself but come on - why beat up on people? Live and let live.

Posted by: overdrive_68 | January 4, 2011 6:24 PM | Report abuse

Regarding the post by Nick5, "...prudent tax planning will be necessary."

Sorry, but if you wing a lump sum cash option of $208.3, and you do pay 35% federal and 10% state tax, you have more than $100 million take home, disposable income. While you should be concerned about some investments, etc., you actually don't have much of tax planning you need to be prudent about. If you can't somehow, live off a portion of $100 million, regardless of how much you spend friviously, it's not a tax problem you have or tax planning that's necessary.

Posted by: Dungarees | January 4, 2011 6:26 PM | Report abuse

Booyah5000 wrote:
"...But I still don't know why anybody would buy more than one ticket.
Like the picture is of somebody who bought 20 tickets. Do people really see that much of a difference between a 1 in 175 million chance and a 20 in 175 million chance?"

Think of it this way: If you buy one ticket, you have a one in a 175 million chance to win. If buy two tickets, you've cut the odds in half; your odds are now 1 in 90 million. Most people think buyng 20 tickets means you have 20 chances out of 175 million possible winning numbers; others see buying 20 tickets as a 1 in 9 million chance. Even though they amount to the same thing, a 1 in 9 million chance sounds a lot better than an 20 in 175 million chance.

Wouldn't you feel better knowing that by buying just one more ticket, you've cut your odds in half?

Of course you could always look at it a different way. That you pretty much have the same chance of winning whether you buy a ticket or not, or "why should I buy two tickets just to give another dollar to someone who just won $300 million dollars?"

Posted by: Dungarees | January 4, 2011 6:38 PM | Report abuse

Someone just bought me a ticket for a gift. Pray for me! If I win I will build an inpatient treatment facility for PTSD surivivors! (As well as buy a new condo. :))

Posted by: SusanMarie2 | January 4, 2011 6:54 PM | Report abuse

I like the odds on dating a supermodel. (hotcha!)

Posted by: garyxindiana | January 4, 2011 8:06 PM | Report abuse

When I win, I will buy everything.

Posted by: COOLCHILLY | January 4, 2011 8:17 PM | Report abuse

If I happen to win the Mega Million? I would surely feed as many children around the world. A gift for a gift : )

Posted by: charlie2nice | January 4, 2011 8:49 PM | Report abuse

I'd spend it all on hookers and cocaine.

Posted by: unclejohncornbread | January 4, 2011 8:54 PM | Report abuse

You could buy every combination and guarantee a win -- the limiter is duplicate winning tickets.

Posted by: gbooksdc | January 4, 2011 9:20 PM | Report abuse

It's a $104 per year feeling of "making my own luck.

Posted by: whatrocks9


As opposed to building a career or a business?

Under your logic, every single person that gambles (and the majority lose) in Vegas is "making their own luck".

Anyways, its mostly the poor and uneducated who play the lottery... so in effect, its a tax on the poor and uneducated.

Posted by: kenk33 | January 4, 2011 9:42 PM | Report abuse

kenk33 wrote: "Anyways, its mostly the poor and uneducated who play the lottery... so in effect, its a tax on the poor and uneducated."

Yeah, but whose fault is that? They're stupid--that's why they're poor.

Posted by: taonima2000 | January 4, 2011 9:59 PM | Report abuse

If you have $335 Million, your odds of being able to date a super model improve greatly.

Posted by: majcsmith | January 4, 2011 10:01 PM | Report abuse

This story would have been better if we knew the odds of winning in all the different states involved in the mega lottery.

Posted by: MILLER123 | January 4, 2011 10:09 PM | Report abuse

for 5 dollars i can dream the dreams of the rich. and as han solo said "never tell me the odds"

Posted by: dem4evr | January 4, 2011 10:13 PM | Report abuse

When I win, I will send a huge check to the Wounded Warriors Foundation, another one to OSU, where I spent 4 wonderful years, and a huge check to the AF Colonel, and soon to be General Officer, who I love more than life itself...he can then try to explain to his wife where he got all the money!

Posted by: carolineC1 | January 4, 2011 10:28 PM | Report abuse

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