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Mega Millions jackpot soars to $550M, and beyond?

There was no winner in the "Mega Millions" game on Friday night. The jackpot has been boosted to $550 million, according to lottery officials. The next drawing is Tuesday at 11 p.m.

The winning numbers in Friday night's drawing were: 19-24-26-27-70, Mega Ball: 12

With the Friday the 13th drawing failing to produce any winner lucky enough to claim the fifth-biggest jackpot ever, officials raised the jackpot amount by $125 million. That now ranks as the fourth-biggest.

Paula Otto, the Virginia Lottery's executive director and Mega Millions' lead director, told The Associated Press early Saturday that she expects the amount to rise even higher before the drawing. It could approach or surpass the largest Mega Millions jackpot ever claimed, $656 million in March 2012.

No jackpot this big has ever rolled over.

Then again, Mega Millions has much longer odds than it did just two months ago.

With no winners in the Friday drawing, the all-time mark of $656 million, set by Mega Millions in March 2012, could fall.

That jackpot was fueled by a sales frenzy never seen before or since, with a $356 million jackpot skyrocketing by $300 million in just three days.

This time, the record might yield to a slower approach.

"We did some quick math and believe that if we roll until Christmas Eve ... we would be at a billion!" Otto told earlier this week.

At the rate gigantic jackpots have been happening, if this jackpot doesn't hit 10 figures, "it could happen in 2014," she said.

The more pertinent number, though, is the cash jackpot, since that's what almost all winners collect. It's up to $228 million. That's seventh highest for any U.S. lottery game.

Since Powerball went to $2 tickets and $40 million minimum jackpots in January 2012, the lottery record books have been rewritten.

At that time, the biggest prize ever was a Mega Millions jackpot of $390 million won in March 2007.

Now that's in seventh place. After the Mega Millions record that March, Powerball started dominating, racking up jackpots of $587 million (November 2012), $590.5 million (May 2013), $448.4 million (August 2013) and $399.4 million (September 2013).

List: "Biggest jackpots in U.S. lottery history"

Gallery: "Winners of Giant Lottery Jackpots"

For a year and half, Mega Millions failed to crack the $200 million barrier.

So, on Oct. 22, Mega Millions was overhauled, with much longer odds – 1 in 259 million per ticket instead of 1 in 175 million – and second prizes ranging from $1 million to $5 million (with
$1 Megaplier multiplier option).

To get those higher odds, the game changed the range for the first five numbers, which can go up to 75. That made anyone's old favorite numbers harder to hit.

The jackpot hasn't been hit since.

In the meantime, Powerball was hit three times, including Wednesday night, when two tickets, sold in Massachusetts and Nebraska, hit a jackpot worth $122.9 million for the annuity, $69 million for the cash. They matched all the numbers drawn: 1, 10, 13, 18 and 19, with a Powerball of 27.

As a result, today's Powerball jackpot will be worth $40 million – and more players will notice Mega Millions is peddling a much bigger dream for half the price.

Seven states had $1 million winners.

For more, go to the websites for Mega Millions and Powerball.

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