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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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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

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C December 17 2013 at 11:17 PM

and the numbers are not in the god damn article

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1 reply
mrholdem C December 17 2013 at 11:37 PM

did you find out the numbers?

Flag Reply 0 rate up
Carl Polk December 17 2013 at 11:17 PM

GOOD LUCK TO ALL WHO TRY!!!!!!!!

Flag Reply +1 rate up
wpabrams December 17 2013 at 9:19 PM

Odds on megga million are almost twice as high the other lottery. States playing on the poor. You stand a better chance of being struck by lightning on a sunny day.

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1 reply
GGOLDS5 wpabrams December 17 2013 at 9:32 PM

9 people in my family have been struck by lightening on sunny days. I play lotto!!!!

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2 replies
ranger197172 GGOLDS5 December 17 2013 at 9:42 PM

If i were you i think i would avoid being around your family members.

Flag 0 rate up
rjbhighc GGOLDS5 December 17 2013 at 9:48 PM

You;re funny !

Flag 0 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
ron December 17 2013 at 9:58 PM

If i win im leaving town lol !

Flag Reply +2 rate up
Hello SOR Betsy December 17 2013 at 9:58 PM

I've been unemployed for 2.4 years, this would be a miracle.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
GGOLDS5 December 17 2013 at 9:38 PM

I now know 11 people personally who have won lotto. I have yet to see a dime. I would give everyone I care about plenty. Some ( a lot) to animal shelters and animal charities. My girlfriends dad and brother won 25,000,000. That's million, but the brother (her uncle) ran off with the money and abandoned the family. He later sent a paltry 50,000 as a token apology and gave the rest to his own new wife to build a Johovah's witness church. Lets all vomit at the same time!.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
Kate December 17 2013 at 11:19 PM

Headline says the numbers are in, and then they don't give you the numbers, laugh? Wow, that's some interesting reporting.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
rogerleib December 17 2013 at 10:08 PM

I will buy a castle in the alps in which I don a white vested suit and have a white Himalayan cat who sits in my lap evilly purring while I'm making my world domination plans.

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