Friday night produced America’s third billion-dollar lottery winner in under a year. An anonymous player from Lebanon, Maine, was the only winning ticket holder for the Jan 13 Mega Millions draw.
The player bought the ticket from Hometown Gas & Grill and is the state’s first person to win a Mega Millions jackpot, regardless of size.
Their winning combo? 30, 43, 45, 46, 61, plus a 14 for the gold Mega Ball.
With a face value of $1.348 billion, it’s the second-largest Mega Millions jackpot of all time. It’s only the fourth-largest lottery jackpot, however, as the top two have come from Powerball instead. If the player chooses to take a lump sum payout, the win will be worth $723.5 million after taxes.
Mega Millions Consortium Lead Director Pat McDonald congratulated the Main State Lottery on making history and thanked retail workers and lottery customers.
Billion Dollar Jackpots Are Now Commonplace
2022 produced two lottery jackpots of over $1 billion. The most recent of these came just two months ago and was the biggest jackpot of all time at just over $2 billion.
Like Friday’s, both of those two jackpots produced a single winner. In fact, there has only been one instance in history of a billion-plus jackpot with more than one winning ticket. That was a $1.6 billion Powerball jackpot from Jan 2016, which got chopped three ways.
If it feels like these stories are becoming commonplace, you’re not wrong. Over the past decade, lottery organizers have made changes to pricing and game rules specifically intended to produce larger jackpots, including some of over $1 billion. Seeing two or more per year may now prove to be the norm rather than an exception.
By the same token, the new lottery formats make those jackpots harder to hit. The time between jackpots is also longer now as a result. This one took 26 draws to find a winner, compared to an average of 11 draws per jackpot since Mega Millions debuted in May 2002.
An Impressive Streak for Friday the 13th
The Mega Millions press release points out that this is the seventh time someone has won Mega Millions on a Friday the 13th. However, it doesn’t put that number in context. Have such draws really produced winners any more frequently than the average?
Somewhat surprisingly, the answer is yes, and by a significant margin. That famously “unlucky” date has only come up 37 times since the first Mega Millions draw. So, Friday the 13th draws have produced a jackpot winner about one time in five, or about twice the average rate for other dates.
Of course, that is almost certainly just a coincidence unless Friday the 13th draws also result in substantially higher ticket sales. Lottery draws are random. No individual player is more likely to win on one day than another.
It’s also worth noting that the last Friday the 13th Mega Millions win came in 2017. Therefore, most of these wins came before the 2016 rules changes, during a period when jackpots were more frequent overall than they are now.