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)

Latest Headlines

in Local

Probe Sought into Claim that LePage Forced Official’s Ouster

Fresh
LEPAGE WELAFRE

Two Democratic Maine lawmakers want the state's watchdog agency to investigate claims that Republican Gov. Paul LePage forced the president of the World Acadian Congress to resign.

in Local

Maine Health Department Nixes Grant to Fund Well Water Tests

Fresh
GENERIC WATER POLLUTION

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services says it will no longer accept a grant established to fund well water tests for arsenic.

in Local

1 Gets Life, 2nd Gets 90 Years for Maine Murder, Car Fire

Fresh
GENERIC COURT LARGE

A second man convicted of murder in a drug-related triple slaying followed by a car fire is being sentenced to life in prison.

in Local

Group Launches Campaign to Strengthen Clean Election Law

GENERIC VOTE

A group that wants to revitalize Maine's weakened Clean Election law is hoping to convince voters to say ``yes'' to their proposal to give publicly financed candidates access to more campaign cash.

in Local

Maine Court Says Man’s Sign at Jury Selection was Tampering

GENERIC COURT LARGE

Maine's highest court says it was proper for a lower court to convict a man of jury tampering after he held up a sign as jurors were being selected for his trial.

Tweets

  • 2m
  • 4m
  • 6m
  • 7m
  • 19m
  • 20m
  • 1h