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Mega Millions jackpot climbs to $344M

UPDATE: The winning Mega Millions numbers selected Friday night are: 11-29-44-63-64. The Mega Ball was 3. The estimated jackpot for Tuesday's drawing is $344 million, according to


On Friday afternoon, Mega Millions, spurred by a lot of lottery fever, boosted the jackpot for that night's drawing to $297 million for the annuity, $158 million for the cash.

It was the second biggest jackpot for the game in more than two-and-a-half years, eclipsed only by the freakish $656 million annuity of March 2012, the all-time U.S. record.

Helping spur sales was that arch-rival Powerball cost twice as much ($2), while having a much smaller jackpot ($100 million). Powerball's next drawing is Saturday night.

Another major reason is Mega Millions' October overhaul, which greatly increased the chances of jackpots rolling over, by worsening the odds to 1 in 259 million, up from 1 in 175 million.

Per dollar, that's still better than Powerball, whose odds are 1 chance in 175 million per ticket.

If you like to choose your own numbers, be aware that Mega Millions added a bunch more -- the first five now go up to 75. The Mega Ball, on the other hand, now only goes up to 15.

Also know that ticket sales stop at 9:59 p.m., according to the Pennsylvania Lottery.

The bigger the jackpot the more people are willing to bet on a long shot, so if this jackpot rolls over, watch out.

On March 23, 2012, Mega Millions stood at $290 million, almost the same as the current jackpot. It rolled over to $356 million, and when that rolled over, skyrocketing sales boosted the top prize more than $300 million in just three days.

See: Biggest jackpots in U.S. lottery history

After that recond jackpot, though, changes in Powerball ($2 tickets, higher minimum jackpots, higher second-place prizes) produced the game's four biggest jackpots ever, including two over $580 million. Meanwhile, Mega Millions couldn't crack the $200 million mark.

The average jackpot for Powerball went way up, the average for Mega Millions declined.

The October revisions -- including higher minimum jackpots, new minimum jackpot increases and higher secondary prizes, including a possible $5 million windfall -- hoped to rectify the imbalance.

And apparently they have.

Results of the 11 p.m. Mega Millions drawing air locally on 6ABC at 11:25 p.m.

For more on lotteries, go to's lottery page, or the websites for Mega Millions or Powerball.

Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or