Mega Millions jackpot now up to $425 million

BALTIMORE - The chances are better you will be struck by lightning twice than ever winning the Mega Millions jackpot.

But that hasn't stopped plenty of people from dreaming what it would be like to strike it rich. According to the Maryland Lottery, Friday's jackpot for the Mega Millions drawing is up to $425 million with a $228.2 million cash option.

Maryland Lottery spokeswoman Carole Everett said if no one wins Friday, the jackpot will climb to at least $550 million.

"With the holidays right around the corner, the drawing is garnering a lot of excitement," Everett said.

No one has won the big Mega Millions jackpot since an Anne Arundel County family claimed the $189 million prize from the Oct. 1 drawing.

Since then, Mega Millions has altered its approach. This included making players pick five numbers from 1 to 75 instead of 1 to 56. The gold Mega Million ball was then reduced to 1 to 15 instead of 1 to 46.

Those changes lowered the odds of winning from about 1 in 176 million to about 1 in 259 million.

Still, while there is the expression that money can't buy happiness, there are plenty of people who would like to find out for themselves. Many shared their thoughts on the ABC2 News Facebook page.

"I don't know if it would make me happy but I wouldn't financially be struggling as a single father and neither would anyone else I know I can say that much," Mike Emala said. "They say more money causes more problems but I think it would make me happy just helping a lot of less fortunate people. I will be spending at least $10 on tickets [Friday]."

Melissa Witomski-Briggs posted that winning the jackpot would make life less stressful.

"Can't buy happiness but it sure can buy piece of mind when you can pay your bills," she said.

Linda Windsor Galster posted she would help a lot of people.

"[I]f I win there will be a lot of happy people and a lot of employed people because I would create jobs," she posted. "And also I would take my family to Disney land since we have always wanted to go."

Everett said Friday's jackpot is the second biggest ever for Mega Millions. The largest – and the largest jackpot ever – came in April 2012 when there were three winning tickets sold, including one in Maryland.

The three groups split $656 million. The group from Maryland worked in the education system and dubbed themselves "The Three Amigos," although they kept their identity private.

"We can be our own worst enemy sometimes with these big jackpots," Everett said. "The Mega Millions starts at $15 million, which is a life-altering amount of money by itself. But these big jackpots keep raising the bar and the expectations of players. It will be interesting to see what happens when we eventually hit the $1 billion mark for a jackpot."

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