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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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LyMartin December 22 2013 at 2:19 PM

HalleluYahweh!!!

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Ted Williams December 17 2013 at 11:46 PM

Please let me win!!!!!

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jen December 17 2013 at 11:44 PM

its just a tax on dumb folks.... think about it kids , they made a hard game to win even harder and almost all states are in now,and still nobody won last week lol what a joke everybody just give me 2 dollars each and i promise i will make one of you a millionare ... its an old mob trick called >> numbers game... lol suckers

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agcondo December 17 2013 at 11:42 PM

8 20 14 17 39...........7

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courtlady7 December 17 2013 at 11:38 PM

Thank you fillipper - as usual, AOL doesn't deliver

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mrholdem December 17 2013 at 11:36 PM

wtf are the numbers

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agcondo December 17 2013 at 11:35 PM

I HAVE 3 NUMBERS WHAT DO I GET

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1 reply to agcondo's comment
miket888 December 17 2013 at 11:48 PM

You get to go back to work. LOL

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Ron December 17 2013 at 11:23 PM

Got the one Number #7
Got a little piece of the pie....

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steve wood December 17 2013 at 11:23 PM

did anyone win

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mrhifidelity December 17 2013 at 11:23 PM

With this kind of money coming in from all the players, how can schools possibly have cutbacks?
Is it going to education, or is it just going???

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