News

Mega Millions jackpot could set lottery record

Mega Millions jackpot could set lottery record

BIG MONEY: Karen Rodriguez prints out a Mega Millions lottery ticket at the Fuel City convenience story Monday, Dec. 16 in Dallas. The Mega Millions jackpot soared to $586 million on Monday amid a frenzy of ticket purchases, a jump that pushed the prize closer to the $656 million U.S. record set last year. Photo: Associated Press//LM Otero

By Barbara Goldberg

(Reuters) – A last-minute ticket buying frenzy could make Tuesday’s Mega Millions jackpot the biggest U.S. lottery prize in history, and odds are mounting for a winner just a week before Christmas, a game official said.

The prize swelled to $586 million on Monday, with another spike in sales expected Tuesday before the 11 p.m. EST drawing, said Paula Otto, Virginia’s lottery director, who heads the multi-state Mega Millions game.

If the winner chooses to take the lump sum cash option, instead of payments over 30 years, the jackpot would be $316 million, according to Mega Millions.

As much as 70 percent of tickets are typically bought the day of the drawing, she said.

Ticket buying reached a fever pitch over the weekend, with 20 percent more chances sold than expected, Otto said.

The spending tsunami pushed the prize closer to the record U.S. jackpot of $656 million, won March 2012 in a Mega Millions drawing. The second largest lottery jackpot was $590.5 million, won May 2013 in a Powerball game.

“If it doesn’t surpass the record, we’ll be close. It’s growing a little faster than we thought,” Otto said on Monday.

The more tickets sold, the better chance someone will match one of the 259 million possible number combinations that could land a jackpot. By Tuesday’s drawing, players will have bought enough tickets to cover 65 percent to 75 percent of the possible number combinations to strike it rich, Otto said.

“You don’t know you have a winner unless it’s 100 percent covered, though,” she said.

If no one picks the exact combination of numbers that appear on six randomly selected lottery balls, the prize will keep growing until the next drawing on Friday.

“We’ve never had a jackpot this high the week before Christmas,” said Otto, who kept mum on whether she is hoping for the drama that a Christmas Eve drawing could bring.

“You like to see winners and you like to see big jackpots. I leave it in the hands of the bouncing balls,” Otto said.

(Editing by Scott Malone and Steve Orlofsky)

Featured Events

new cher

Cher: Dressed to Kill Tour

Cher’s “Dressed To Kill” tour comes to town on April 30th at Nationwide Arena.

wwe sd

WWE Smackdown

See all of your favorite Superstars in action including: John Cena, Randy Orton, The Shield and Bray Wyatt & The Wyatt Family.

KatyPerry 2014 tour PR photo

Katy Perry: The Prismatic World Tour

Katy Perry’s “Prismatic World Tour” comes to Nationwide Arena on August 13th.

News

1 hour ago in Lifestyle

Americans urged to plan for the end

Fresh
doctors

National Health Care Decisions Day encourages people to think about their own end-of-life preferences.

today in Entertainment

Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly re-team for new comedy

ferrell

The duo are teaming up on the big screen for a third time in a new comedy.

today in Music, Entertainment

Brad Paisley to appear opposite wife on ‘Two and a Half Men’

paisley

Country singer Brad Paisley is set to star opposite his wife in the season finale of "Two and a Half Men."