The previous record for the game's top prize was $656 million, split among three winners in 2012, while the largest jackpot in USA history was a $1.5 billion Powerball haul in 2016.
The jackpot has been growing since July, when some California office workers won $543 million. That reflects the game's long odds, at one in 302.5 million. About half of the jackpot winnings would go to taxes.
But no one picked the six winning Mega Millions numbers correctly, so the jackpot rolled over and soared even higher. Carole Gentry, a spokeswoman for the Maryland lottery, said the requirement is seven to 10 days in that state.
'They're a target for everything, ' he told the New York Daily News.
The jackpot has swelled to $970 million because there hasn't been a jackpot victor since July 24.
Every lottery ticket buyer believes that, and why not?
- Millions are on the line after this week's lottery drawings came and went with no victor.
Mega Millions announced a $900 million jackpot Thursday, the largest in the history of the game. Now, the Mega Millions jackpots grow and grow, creating huge prizes with infrequent payouts.
The victor would pay US$203m in federal taxes, US$48m in state taxes and US$21m in city income tax.
There was a drawing on Tuesday night but nobody guessed all six numbers. Powerball odds are just slightly better at 1 in 292.2 million.
Two big jackpots at the same time, says Smithfield News owner Kashif Malik, adds up to more ticket buyers.
Lottery officials are happy to have Friday's record Mega Millions jackpot fueling ticket sales. This is the amount of money the lottery would have invested over a period of time to equal the prize. "If you have not purchased a Mega Millions ticket, you can not win a prize", they say.
This can get complicated, but for the most part winners pay taxes where they bought the ticket and then can get a credit on their taxes in their home state.
"Just buy a ticket, sit back and see if fate points a finger at you for that day".