Mega Millions jackpot climbs after no one wins $425M - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Sales drives Mega Millions jackpot to $425M

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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - One of the largest jackpots in U.S. lottery history climbed even higher Saturday after no ticket matched all six numbers to win the $425 million top Mega Millions prize.

With the Friday the 13th drawing failing to produce any winner lucky enough to claim the fifth-biggest jackpot ever, officials raised the amount to $550 million for Tuesday's drawing. That now ranks as the fourth-biggest.

Paula Otto, the Virginia Lottery's executive director and Mega Millions' lead director, told The Associated Press early Saturday that she expects the amount to rise even higher before the drawing. It could approach or surpass the largest Mega Millions jackpot ever claimed, $656 million in March 2012. Had someone won Friday, it would have been that game's second-highest prize.

"We've never had a jackpot at this level in December leading into the holidays," Otto said. "If we keep rolling, we could well be at a billion dollars going into Christmas."

But each time the lottery fails to produce a jackpot, as it now has 21 straight times on this run, the pot gets even larger. That increases the number of tickets sold while decreasing the chances that nobody will win.

Otto said after $167 million in sales of mostly $1 tickets since the previous drawing on Tuesday, the odds of someone picking all the winning numbers Friday were about 50-50. They'll almost certainly be even higher next Tuesday and even higher in subsequent drawings should the jackpot still go unclaimed.

A winner from Friday night's drawing would have had a cash option of $228 million before taxes. The winning numbers were: 19-24-26-27-70, Mega Ball: 12.

Although nobody hit the biggest prize, nine people nabbed $1 million prizes for matching the first five numbers. Those tickets were sold in Colorado, Connecticut, New Jersey and two apiece in Florida, Michigan and New York, Otto said.

Earlier Friday, Otto said sales were 40 percent ahead of projections, prompting officials to boost the jackpot to the jackpot from $400 million to $425 million.

Sarah Andrews, 35, of Madrid, Iowa, purchase one Mega Millions ticket Friday morning. The infrequent player took the automated Easy Pick option.

"I feel that my odds are so low anyway, it doesn't really matter," said the IT specialist. "I only buy a ticket to get a dollar's worth of entertainment."

A major game revamp to Mega Millions in October - aimed at growing bigger jackpots in a shorter amount of time - decreased the odds of a person winning the top prize to about 1 in 259 million. It was previously about 1 in 176 million, nearly the same odds as winning the Powerball jackpot. Still, the cost for a chance at winning millions with Mega Millions is just $1.

"In some ways we're in uncharted territory because we have this new matrix," Otto said. "... How wonderful that the changes seem to be working immediately to get us bigger jackpots."

It also gave ticket buyers a chance to daydream - at least until the drawing dashed their hopes of striking it rich.

"It would change my life, absolutely," said Barbara Cooper, who bought two tickets Friday at a New Orleans convenience store. "We still have children in college, so that would help out immensely."

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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Superstition didn't deter players hoping that Friday the 13th would bring them good luck in the recently revamped Mega Millions game, as heavy sales prompted lottery officials to boost the jackpot from $400 million to $425 million.

Paula Otto, the Virginia Lottery's executive director and Mega Millions' lead director, said sales were 40 percent ahead of projections, prompting officials to boost the jackpot before the Friday night drawing.

"Won't it be fun if we have a huge lottery winner on Friday the 13th?" she said. "I always say there are no unlucky numbers in the lottery. I work on the 13th floor of our building. I like 13."

The estimated $425 million jackpot is the second-largest Mega Millions jackpot ever, trailing a $656 million jackpot in March 2012, and it is the fifth-largest lottery jackpot in U.S. history. The current jackpot has rolled over 20 times, and a winner from Friday night's drawing could have a cash option of $228 million before taxes. The winning numbers were: 19-24-26-27-70, Mega Ball: 12.

Tom Leuangkhamsone doesn't usually play Mega Millions, but he bought one ticket Friday morning at a convenience store in Atlanta.

"I feel lucky today," he said. "Friday the 13th, they say it's a bad day but I don't know. ... If I win I would probably give most of it away."

In New York state, tickets were selling at a pace of $500,000 an hour Friday morning. The state's lottery spokeswoman, Christy Calicchia, said sales are normally between $60,000 and $70,000 an hour.

Mike Cline, 46, bought a lone Mega Millions ticket at a Des Moines convenience store.

"She's selling me the winner right now," he said to the store owner as he turned in a sheet with his family's birthdays on them. It's the numbers he uses all the time. Aside from his own personal ticket, he plays in a work pool that uses a combination of set numbers and the automated Easy Pick option.

"I actually think we have a better chance with the Easy Pick," he said. "But I don't care how we win, as long as we win."

A major game revamp to Mega Millions in October - aimed at growing bigger jackpots in a shorter amount of time - decreased the odds of a person winning the top prize to about 1 in 259 million. It was previously about 1 in 176 million, nearly the same odds as winning the Powerball jackpot. Still, the cost for a chance at winning millions with Mega Millions is just $1.

That's what made Sarah Andrews, 35, of Madrid, Iowa, purchase one Mega Millions ticket Friday morning. The infrequent player took the automated Easy Pick option.

"I feel that my odds are so low anyway, it doesn't really matter," said the IT specialist. "I only buy a ticket to get a dollar's worth of entertainment."

The winning ticket must match the six numbers drawn, and about 32 percent of the possible combinations of numbers have been sold.

Barbara Cooper bought two tickets Friday at a convenience store in downtown New Orleans. She immediately began to daydream.

"It would change my life, absolutely," she said. "We still have children in college, so that would help out immensely."

If no one wins Friday night, the jackpot will increase to $550 million, Otto said.

"The good news is, sales are strong. We're not in record territory yet but we probably will be this time next week if we're still taking about this jackpot," she said.

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

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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The jackpot for the Mega Millions lottery game has been boosted to $425 million because of heavy sales.

Paula Otto, the Virginia Lottery's executive director and Mega Millions' lead director, says sales are 40 percent ahead of projections prompting the game to boost the jackpot for Friday night's draw.

A winner choosing the cash option would win $228 million before taxes.

In New York state, tickets are selling at a pace of $500,000 an hour Friday morning. The state's lottery spokeswoman, Christy Calicchia says sales are normally between $60,000 and $70,000 an hour.

The winning ticket must match the six numbers drawn. About 32 percent of the possible combinations of numbers have been sold.

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

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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Sales are brisk for Mega Millions tickets across the country as people dream of winning a $400 million jackpot.

Lottery officials in Virginia, the lead state for the Mega Millions game, say sales are expected to reach $104 million for Friday night's drawing since the last drawing Tuesday. That's about five times the sales when the jackpot is $15 million, the starting point after a jackpot is won.

Mega Millions officials will meet Friday morning to decide whether to increase the jackpot ahead of the 11 p.m. Eastern time drawing.

So far about 32 percent of the possible combinations of numbers have been sold.

The winning ticket must match the six numbers drawn.

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

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