The history of drawing possibly the largest Mega Millions jackpot ever, $1.6 billion, on Tuesday can be traced back to 1993.
That’s when WSB-TV pitched the Georgia Lottery Corp. to be their partner in broadcasting the winning numbers, according to Steve Riley, director of marketing for the Atlanta station.
It was customary for television stations to pitch new lottery organizations because lotto drawings pull eyeballs, Riley said. For WSB, the drawing leads viewers into the 11 p.m. news broadcast.
In addition to Mega Millions, WSB does all the other Georgia Lottery drawings, said WSB’s production manager Debbie Williams, but not Powerball, which is drawn in Florida.
The Mega Millions game was formerly named the “Big Game,” which had a $363 million jackpot in 2000 that drew lots of attention at the time that interest in such multi-state games was high, according to the Mega Millions website. New York and Ohio joined the party in May 2002, and the game re-branded as Mega Millions. By 2005, California and Texas joined.
Now, all 44 states that allow lotteries are a part of Mega Millions in addition to the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The contract between the Georgia Lottery and WSB was inked again after going out for bid about the end of 2016, said Tandi Reddick, a state lottery system spokeswoman.
The broadcast of the drawing is produced by the Georgia Lottery inside WSB’s studio in Atlanta’s Midtown neighborhood.
Reddick said she couldn’t say much about security for the sake of its integrity, but she did say the machines are kept under lock and key and that the drawings are supervised.
“The fact that it’s drawn out of here, probably to the people outside of Georgia, they don’t really know or care,” Riley said.
What they do care about is that money.
The jackpot has rolled over 26 times since July 27, according to The AJC.
So if you have a ticket, WSB will see you at 11 p.m.
Note: WSB-TV Channel 2 Action News and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution are both owned by Cox Media Group. In July, Cox Enterprises — the parent company of CMG — announced it was exploring options for its 14 television stations, including WSB.
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