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Posted: 3:41 a.m. Friday, March 30, 2012

Mega Millions' big night

Mega Millions Studio
WSB-TV
The Mega Millions drawing is held in the WSB-TV studios.

By Jay Black and Jon Lewis

ATLANTA —

So today’s the big day. Perhaps you’ve heard about this Mega Millions thing.

Thursday the largest lottery prize in North America grew again to $640 million.  If one ticket matches all six numbers, the winner would have the choice of receiving the full jackpot in 26 annual payments of about $24.6 million, or a cash option of approximately $462 million.

The game is played in 42 states and the District of Columbia. So the nation’s eyes will turn to Atlanta for the 11 p.m. drawing. The Mega Millions numbers are always pulled during a live TV program from the WSB-TV Channel 2 studios. But there was talk about moving the big drawing out of the south and into Times Square.

“The decision was made to keep the drawing here in Atlanta,” Georgia Lottery CEO Margaret DeFrancisco told News/Talk WSB inside the lottery studio. “We are wonderfully excited about the fact that this is going to emanate from Atlanta as it always does.

DeFrancisco says they decided to keep the drawing in Georgia just to ensure that everything would be routine – or as routine as giving away more than a half billion dollars can be. There will be extra security on hand and a few more auditors to make sure there are no screw ups. Plus, lottery host John Crow will break out his tuxedo for the big occasion.

If you win, lottery officials say there is no chance you can hide.

The winner’s identity is part of public record. So the lottery is required to disclose the winner’s name, and city of residence.

Georgia Lottery spokesman Tandi Reddick told the AJC it’s in the winners best interest to claim the prize, go through big check presentation and get the press conference out of the way at one time.

“A lot of winners find it fun and a great enhancement to the winning experience to participate in the big check presentation,” she said.

Tickets are $1. For an extra buck, players can multiply prizes with the Megaplier option. You have 180 days to claim your prize.

There has not been a Mega Millions winner since Marcia Adams, 33, of College Park won a $72 million jackpot Jan. 24. The jackpot has rolled over 18 times since then.

The previous Mega Millions record was a $390 million jackpot in March 2007. A person from Georgia and another from New Jersey split the jackpot.

The odds of winning the jackpot are one in 175.7 million.


TOP SIX MEGA MILLIONS JACKPOTS

$476 million: March 30, 2012

$390 million: March 6, 2007 — Two winners (Georgia and New Jersey)

$380 million: Jan. 4, 2011 — Two winners (Idaho and Washington)

$363 million: March 27, 2012 — No top-prize winners

$336 million: Aug. 28, 2009 — Two winners (California, New York)

$330 million: Aug. 31, 2007 — 4 winners (New Jersey, Maryland, Texas and Virginia)

SOURCE: MegaMillions.com

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