Lottery host John Crow in tuxedo for Mega Millions drawing

Friday night's $640 million Mega Millions jackpot is so big, the most familiar personality to lottery-drawing TV viewers in Georgia will be decked out in a tuxedo for the historic event.

John Crow, who has called the tumbling Mega Millions balls since becoming the official face of the Georgia Lottery four years ago, said he’s pumped for Friday’s contest.

The drawing will be carried live on WSB-TV, Channel 2,  at 11 p.m.

“I believe we are going to have such a huge viewership tonight for this drawing,” Crow said Friday afternoon at WSB-TV’s studios in Midtown. “This is part of lottery history.”

Mega Millions players in 42 states, Washington D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands will be waiting to hear the numbers Crow will call out.

“Everybody’s excited and using their imagination about what they are going to be doing with all of that money,” said Crow, who started his day at 9 a.m. and won’t end it until after midnight.

The jackpot hit the world-record $640 million mark earlier in the day.

Georgia Lottery President and CEO Margeret R. DeFrancisco said Georgians purchased $6.6 million in Mega Millions tickets on Thursday alone, compared with normal Mega Millions sales of around $2 million for an entire week.

If a single winner matches all six numbers and chooses the cash option, he or she will receive a lump sum payout of about $462 million.

If there is no winner Friday, the new jackpot figure could approach an unheard of $1 billion for next Tuesday night's drawing, Crow speculated.

Crow will be ready to announce the winning numbers at 11 p.m. Ticket sales end 15 minutes before the drawing.

“I think people should definitely purchase at least one ticket,” said Crow.

Crow, who grew up in Marietta, didn’t set out to be a lottery host. He was born in Roswell, N.M., and his family lived in Florida before moving to Cobb County when he was in the fifth grade.

After graduating from Lassiter High School, he attended the University of Georgia and Georgia State University before receiving a degree from Montana State University. He then pursued a career in film and TV commercial production, and was a part-time stand-up comedian.

In 2008, Crow entered a national talent search when the Georgia Lottery was looking for a new host to mark its 15th anniversary. Crow won the competition, beating out more than 4,700 applicants. He's been under contract full-time with the Georgia Lottery ever since.

Crow works Monday through Friday and conducts the evening lottery drawings, which include the Mega Millions on Tuesday and Friday. He also attends lottery events across the state.

Crow, who also has a website,, declined to disclose his compensation.

Crow is an avid mountain climber, cyclist and traveler. He has climbed Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest, and Fuji, Japan's highest. He's cycled in New Zealand and the Canadian Rockies, and also traveled to at least 42 countries.

Crow said he played the lottery occasionally before joining the Georgia Lottery, but that all ended when he was hired. Not only are Georgia Lottery employees barred from playing, they can’t live with anyone who plays.

So he will not be among those lining up to tell cashiers whether they want the “cash option”, or whether they want the Quik Pik machine to choose their numbers. It costs $1 per line to play, $2 for a multiplier ticket.

Crow, who is unmarried, said his mother plays regularly. “She loves the lottery,” he said. “She plays all the time.” So do an older brother and sister, he said.

If he weren’t employed by the Georgia Lottery, Crow said he’d “definitely” be buying a ticket for Friday’s drawing.

“What’s great about the jackpot is that it generates funds for the Hope Scholarship and lottery-funded pre-K,” Crow said.

Crow's tuxedo will help mark the big event. "This is a special occasion. We may never see a jackpot this big again. Hopefully we will, but $640 million is astronomical and I can't wait to be a part of this."