Big Ticket Sales as Mega Millions Jackpot Hits Record $370M

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Lottery machines cranked out tickets at a dizzying rate Tuesday as the multistate Mega Millions game drew bettors with a jackpot estimated at a record $370 million.

The multi-state lottery game's operators bumped the estimated jackpot up to $370 million based on Monday's sales volume. That's a North American lottery jackpot record, according to lottery officials.

Because of the huge prize and publicity, the 12 participating states agreed to move Tuesday's 8 p.m. drawing from the game's usual home in Atlanta to New York's Times Square.

Ticket sales will be cut off at 7:45 p.m.

On Monday, lottery officials announced that the jackpot for tonight's drawing would be $355 million, but that number keeps going up as players gobble up tickets.

According to state lottery officials, if a single winner has all five numbers plus the Mega number, the person has a pre-tax choice of $14 million a year for 26 years or a one-time payout of $221 million.

The odds of winning the Mega Millions jackpot are about 1 in 176 million. Mega Millions tickets are sold in California, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Texas, Virginia and Washington state.

There was a $363 million jackpot in 2000 when it was known as the seven-state Big Game. That prize was split by two winners.

The competing Powerball game - available in 29 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virginia Islands - has the record for the largest single winner with $314.9 million, on Christmas Day.

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