Mega Millions Jackpot Climbs to $1.1B, Chicken CEO Spends $200K on Tickets

The Mega Millions jackpot continues to grow to nearly unprecedented highs.

Jackpot alert! Mega Millions is raising its estimated jackpot for the July 29 draw from $1.025 billion to $1.1 billion. Lottery officials say the jackpot increase was because of substantial demand for a chance at the life-altering prize. (Image: AP)

The interstate lottery game announced today that its earlier estimated jackpot for tomorrow night’s July 29 draw of $1.025 billion was a bit underdone. Lottery officials now say that the jackpot is likelier north of $1.1 billion, with a one-time cash option of $648.2 million.

The increased jackpot is because of increased sales, as Mega Millions makes headlines in the 45 states, plus DC and the US Virgin Islands where it’s played. If won, the $1.1 billion jackpot would be the second-largest prize in the more than 20-year history of the lottery game.

A single ticket sold in South Carolina hit a Mega Millions jackpot worth $1.537 billion in October of 2018. The largest lottery prize ever won in the United States occurred in January 2016 when three Powerball tickets split a $1.568 billion prize.

The chances of a ticket matching all five white balls and the gold Mega Ball during tomorrow night’s Mega Millions drawing is a measly one in nearly 303 million.

But someone, at some point, is going to win. And one restaurant CEO hopes it’s one of his approximately 50,000 employees.

Employee Perk

Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers is a popular fried chicken fast-food restaurant chain. Founded and based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the company today counts around 600 locations.

Raising Cane’s founder and CEO Todd Graves, who also uses the titles “fry cook” and “cashier” in an effort to stay true to his origins, is hoping to provide all of his 50,000 employees with a bonus by way of winning the Mega Millions jackpot.

Graves purchased a Mega Millions ticket for all Raising Cane’s employees ahead of the July 26 draw that came with an $810 million jackpot. After none of the 50,000 tickets he purchased at a cost of $100,000 won the top prize, he opted to double down with another 50,000 tickets for tomorrow’s draw.

Times are tough out there. Things aren’t exactly easy these days, so when we saw there is a chance to not only have a little fun but maybe win a little extra cash for our people, we wanted to do it,” said Raising Cane’s CEO AJ Kumaran.

If any of the 50,000 tickets win the Mega Millions jackpot tomorrow night, Graves says the cash will be divvied up among the 50,000 workers.

The $648.2 million lump cash option would be reduced to $408.4 million after federal taxes, and then to $377.6 million after Louisiana takes its 4.75% cut. That would leave about $7,552 per employee.

Winners Galore

Since the Mega Millions jackpot was last won in April, the lottery game says there have been more than 28.1 million winning tickets at all prize levels — most being the minimal $2 that simply returns the ticket cost. But 42 tickets have won $1 million or more.

Only four Mega Millions jackpots have been won in 2022. But the fifth is becoming increasingly likely, as more tickets are being purchased for each draw theoretically results in more number combinations being covered.

We’ll learn whether the run ends tomorrow night at 11 pm ET when the six numbers are revealed. The Mega Millions draws are conducted under tight security at the WSB-TV studio in Atlanta.

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