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Jackpot now at $540m


CAROL MARTINDALE, [email protected]

Jackpot now at $540m

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The estimated jackpot for tomorrow’s Mega Millions drawing has risen to $540 million, extending what Mega Millions officials say already was going to be a world record for lottery jackpots, the officials said today.
The jackpot initially was estimated at $476 million, and then $500 million, but stronger-than-anticipated sales nationwide have helped push up the figure, lottery officials said.
The previous world record for a single jackpot, according to Mega Millions, was that game’s $390 million prize in a March 6, 2007, drawing. That jackpot was split by winners in Georgia and New Jersey.
The jackpot rolled over from Tuesday’s drawing for a $363 million jackpot, which no one won. The prize has been building since January 24, when a Georgia woman won a $72 million Mega Millions drawing.
The growing jackpot has drawn a steadily increasing interest from would-be millionaires.
 
On Wednesday, lottery officials in Virginia estimated that the number of tickets sold in that state on Friday alone would be more than four times the 1.2 million tickets sold in Virginia on a Friday two weeks earlier, when the jackpot was $200 million.
“Sales are very, very strong in Virginia. It looks like we’re seeing a lot more people who don’t normally play want to get in the game,” Virginia Lottery spokesman John Hagerty said Wednesday afternoon.
The $540 million prize would be payable as an annuity over 26 years. If a winner prefers, he or she could choose a one-time, lump-sum payment, which in this case would be $389 million. Both figures are before taxes.
Mega Millions is played in 42 states plus the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
A jackpot-winning ticket must match all five numbers drawn from a pot containing 56 balls and then match the Mega Ball, which is drawn from a pot containing 46 numbers. Odds of winning are almost 176 million to 1. Each ticket costs $1.

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