Lottery players are chasing the largest jackpot in history, and it'll likely be won tonight: The game is Mega Millions and it's at $540 million and growing.
But you'll have to phone a friend. Mega Millions is played in 42 states, but Florida is not one of them (41 states have both games, California has only Mega Millions, we have only PowerBall and seven states have neither).
We've had PowerBall for about three years, and while lottery officials say they're looking at adding Mega Millions, our overall lottery picture is pretty good, approaching a record year of over $4.2 billion in sales.
"We congratulate our sister lotteries in other states for their success with it," said Florida Lottery Secretary Cynthia O'Connell. "The Florida Lottery is always looking for new products to offer our players and Mega Millions is one of those games under consideration, although no decisions have been made to add it to our products."
Also like PowerBall, the Mega Millions odds are remote. Correctly guessing which five of 56 white balls will be pulled and the one of the 46 red balls carries odds of one in 175 million.
No one has done it since Jan. 24, pushing the jackpot to $540 million, annuitized over 26 years. It'll likely grow more today because ticket sales are soaring.
Which leads me to the math. At some point, the sales could approach $175 million for this week. Presuming everybody bought a quick pick (a bad assumption, but give it to me), we as a nation could "box" the field, covering every possible number -- and ensuring a winner. I gotta do more research on this, but it's early in the morning.
The game's previous biggest jackpot was $390 million in the March 6, 2007, drawing. That jackpot was split by winners in Georgia and New Jersey.
On Jan. 4, 2011, a $380 million jackpot was also split by two winners, one in Idaho and one in Washington.
The biggest single-ticket win in PowerBall was in February 2006 when a ticket held by eight workers at a Nebraska food plant paid a $365 million jackpot.
O'Connell also said she felt it's important to remind players that the Florida Lottery's Mega Money game is not the same as Mega Millions. (Friday's jackpot is $500,000.)