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Mega Millions jackpot soars to $636 million

Mega Millions Jackpot
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -- The Mega Millions jackpot has soared to an estimated $636 million for Tuesday night's drawing, making it the second largest lottery jackpot in U.S. history.

The top prize had been estimated at $586 million, but lottery officials increased their prediction Tuesday morning because of strong ticket sales. The jackpot now trails only a $656 million Mega Millions pot that was sold in March 2012.

Mega Millions changed its rules in October to help increase the jackpots by lowering the odds of winning the top prize. That means the chances of winning the jackpot are now about 1 in 259 million.

But that hasn't stopped aspiring multimillionaires from playing the game.

"Oh I think there's absolutely no way I am going to win this lottery," said Tanya Joosten, 39, an educator at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee who bought several tickets on Tuesday. "But it's hard for such a small amount of money to not take the chance."

Annie Pedersen also said she wanted to be part of the action, so she jumped in and bought two tickets at a Milwaukee grocery.

"Everybody is so excited about it so I wanted to get in on some of the excitement, too, by watching," she said.

Tickets are selling at a pace that surpassed even the lottery's expectations.

"We estimate by drawing time we'll be about $75 million ahead in sales," said Paula Otto, executive director of the Virginia Lottery and lead director for Mega Millions.

Otto said officials expect about 70 percent of the possible number combinations to be purchased for Tuesday night's drawing. She also noted that if a winner isn't selected either Tuesday night or for Friday's drawing, the jackpot could hit $1 billion - an unheard of amount for Mega Millions or Powerball, the nation's two main lottery games.

The drawing is scheduled for 11 p.m. EST. The cash option is estimated at $341 million, before taxes.

The previous odds of winning Mega Millions' top prize were roughly 1 in 176 million, nearly the same as Powerball, which also has seen a surge in large jackpots since its rules were revamped in January 2012.

Mega Millions is played in 43 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

---

Associated Press writer Carrie Antlfinger contributed to this report from Milwaukee.

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1000|Char. 1000  Char.
anglfc47 December 17 2013 at 9:48 PM

If I would win I would help all the homeless dogs and paid off my bills ,help family and my friends, and I would not want to win it all, just enough to do these things,

Flag Reply +3 rate up
landskp4u December 17 2013 at 10:22 PM

The real winner is the states....The lottery is basically a 50/50 so 1.2 billion becomes 650 million of lotto winnings. Then the cash option leaves the winner with the 341 million....which is then taxed at 48%. Then taxed again and again for many of the luxury items the money purchases. The money in the winners hand amounts to somewhere around 15% of the total taken in. Originally the lotto was supposed to fund schools and reduce property taxes. I live in NJ and my taxes are 8+k a year for a small 2 bedroom 1 bath home. My tax bill shows 51% of my taxes go to the schools. So where is all this money lotto is earning going????

Flag Reply +7 rate up
pete4424 December 17 2013 at 10:31 PM

HEYYYYYYY I SURE HAVE A GOOD DEAL FOR SOMEONE, IF YOU WIN THE LOTTERY, I WILL SPLIT THE COST OF THE TICKETS WITH YOU, AND WE WILL SPLIT THE LOTTERY, IN HALF, NOWWWWWW IS THAT A GOOD XMAS PRESENT FOR BOTH, MERRY XMAS TO ALL

Flag Reply +1 rate up
HI--JACKI December 17 2013 at 10:32 PM

i won lol

Flag Reply +2 rate up
estimatorone December 17 2013 at 10:42 PM

I liked the game when it had the lower odds. It gave more people
a chance to win a substantial amount of money. I mean, how much
is enough for one person?

Flag Reply +1 rate up
goodgrief61945 December 17 2013 at 8:33 PM

I won a whooping two bucks last week. First time I ever bought a ticket.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
Andy Bauer December 17 2013 at 10:43 PM

If I won, I would take the 30-payment option. All the lottery winners who have gone broke in the past were the ones who took the 1-time payout, because no one who wins the lottery is used to having that kind of money all at one time. With the 30-payment option, you're guaranteed not to go broke for at least 30 years, plus you can set up a living will to will any remaining payments to whomever you want should something happen to you. If I won, I'm taking a bunch of people with me. Give me $10-20 million spread out over 30 years...that's $225,000 - $450,000 a year after taxes. If you can't live on that much money, then you're stupid. I would get everything taken care of--bills, medical issues, etc.--the first year, and still have enough left over to go traveling and do whatever I wanted. After that, it's all gravy.

Flag Reply +5 rate up
orion2855 December 17 2013 at 9:46 PM

If I won I would start a charitible organization in my brother Joe's name, he was killed in a motorcycle wreck on 11-24-07 and I miss him very much.
Joe was very involved with Calvary Chapel, it would be great to carry on his name with the church.
I hope whoever wins such a large amount does some good with it right here in America, we have so many that are in desperate need right now.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
kgunfever December 17 2013 at 7:52 PM

some rich person will win it any way.all ways does.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
jackimagin December 17 2013 at 7:28 PM

sorry i think i have the ticket

Flag Reply +2 rate up
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