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Evening is prime time for lottery hopefuls

Posted December 17, 2013

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— With Tuesday's Mega Millions jackpot approaching a record, those looking for an early Christmas check packed ticket lines throughout the day Tuesday. Across North Carolina, an average of 800 tickets were being sold each minute, with the "rush hour" still to come.

Brisk sales prompted lottery officials to push their prediction for the top prize in the multi-state lottery to $636 million. The jackpot now trails only a $656 million Mega Millions pot that was sold in March 2012.

Ticket sales are greatest in the 5 o'clock hour on the evening of a jackpot, lottery officials said. All those potential winners have the evening to plot how they would spend the windfall.

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.

"It's the opportunity of a lifetime," Idus Daniel said. "I think everybody should go ahead and throw a couple of dollars."

Shawn Manire was thinking about spending all that cash.  

"It would be awesome, unfathomable really to think about what you could do with that," he said as he waited for his tickets at a Raleigh convenience store.

Across the country, the feeling was the same. 

Annie Pedersen 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. A patient winner who chooses to paid on an annual basis would start out collecting about $4,600 per hour. That rate would increase over the 30-year payout.

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. 

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  • mafiamic Dec 17, 2013

    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.

    If that is what they do,hey why not lower the odds to 1 in 2 and you might get billion dollar jackpots.

  • Gatsby Dec 17, 2013

    Most don't really need worry...It will never be theirs to spend

  • davidhartman Dec 17, 2013

    All those taxpayer originated welfare dollars just being returned to the government.

    Shameful; there should be a way to prevent those on assistance from squandering money on this type of nonsense.

  • Geez Louise Dec 17, 2013

    "Lotteries are just the lazy man's way of not working and hoping and wishing and dreaming of getting rich."

    --And your point is?

  • nobodyknow420 Dec 17, 2013

    oh Mustange, you just made my day!

  • Phyxius1 Dec 17, 2013

    I only play when it's this huge. It will be xmas in Hawaii if I was to win!! :)
    thegodfactor712

    Better line up a very good lawyer, accountant and financial adviser. Then hire other ones to watch the first ones. The frivolous lawsuits people will put on you will make your head spin. They had a show " The lottery ruined my life " and it was interesting to see the stuff people come after you for after winning. One talked of the threats of people kidnapping your family for money and on and on.Money would be great but all of them said it also changed their lives for the bad too.

  • Mustange Dec 17, 2013

    (I wish the US would do a lottery) i actually suggested that in an email to the white house a year or so ago. I called it the national lottery where all profit would go toward the pay off of the 17 trillon dollar debt. You could purchase your tickets through the post office which would help thim out , and it would be a once a year drawing. But they didnt think it would work so down the tubes it went. I know it would work but we little peoples voices never get herd. And with it being a national lottery people from outside the US could purchase tickets as well.

  • BeastieBoy Dec 17, 2013

    And the NC School System gets another $10.95 in change. 80% is administrative burden. Kind of like the United Way.

  • BubbaDukeforPresident Dec 17, 2013

    I believe there should be a national social security lottery to replace the funds stolen from taxpayers by the government. All of the profits should go into into a social security trust fund that politicians can't touch. Jackpots could be limited to $10 million, and if they take in $20 million, they should draw another set of numbers. The more winners, the more people will play.

  • thegodfactor712 Dec 17, 2013

    I only play when it's this huge. It will be xmas in Hawaii if I was to win!! :)

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