A record-shattering Mega Millions jackpot of $500 million is up for grabs Friday, making it the largest jackpot in North America.   The winnings tops the previous Mega Millions jackpot record of $390 million, split between two winning tickets in 2007, by a whopping $110 million

Wednesday morning, the Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL) that operates the game on behalf of 44 participating lotteries, including the Louisiana Lottery and Texas Lottery announced an increase to Mega Millions' estimated jackpot size based on a surge in sales.  Before the increase, the advertised jackpot was $476 million.

“The buzz and anticipation surrounding the record jackpot are exciting for both our regular and occasional players,” said Lottery President Rose Hudson. “We’re crossing our fingers for Louisiana’s first Mega Millions jackpot winner.”

The Louisiana Lottery began participating in the multistate game in November 2011, joining 43 other lotteries offering Mega Millions. 

This is the first time the jackpot has exceeded $400 million. Friday’s drawing will be the 19th in the current jackpot run, which was last hit Jan. 24 in Georgia.

The Mega Millions jackpot is advertised as an annuity, payable in 26 equal annual installments. Winners have the option of taking a lump-sum cash payment that would have to be invested to provide the 26-installment annuity option, which is $359 million for Friday’s drawing.

“Mega Millions sales have doubled our expectations,” Hudson added, “and this record jackpot only means more fun for players and more funds for Louisiana.” 

Just since Saturday, more than $1.3 million worth of Mega Millions tickets have been sold in Louisiana, and fiscal year-to-date sales top $14.8 million. As with all Lottery games, 35 percent of Mega Millions sales is transferred to the state for K-12 public education. 

Mega Millions can be played for $1. Jackpots start at $12 million and roll until they are won by matching all five white ball numbers in a field of 56 as well as the yellow Mega Ball number in a field of 46. Other prizes can be won for matching lesser combinations. For an additional dollar, players can add the Megaplier option to their ticket to have nonjackpot winnings multiplied by the Megaplier of 2, 3 or 4, randomly selected during the drawing. The match-5 prize becomes $1 million when the Megaplier is purchased. 

“Players should sign the back of their ticket immediately after purchasing for security purposes and treat their tickets like cash,” advised Hudson. “Also, check the winning numbers after the drawing. Even if a ticket does not match all six Mega Millions numbers, it could possibly have matched another prize-winning combination.” 

During this current jackpot run, three match-5 winning tickets with prizes of $250,000 were sold – in Port Allen for the March 2 drawing, and one in New Orleans and one in Thibodaux for the March 23 drawing.ased by 9 p.m. the night of the drawing. Drawings are broadcast live at 10 p.m. from Atlanta, Ga., on Official Lottery Dr tick