Winning tickets for $636M Mega Millions jackpot sold - KMSP-TV

Winning tickets for $636M Mega Millions jackpot sold in California, Georgia

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Lottery officials said late Tuesday that winning tickets for the $636 million Mega Millions jackpot were sold in California and Georgia.

A message on the California Lottery's official Twitter account read "Check your tickets #SanJose because holiday luck has actually struck YOUR city!" California Lottery spokesman Alex Traverso told The Associated Press that the winning ticket was sold at a store called Jennifer's Gift Shop on Tully Road in the Northern California city.

Mega Millions lead director Paula Otto told the Associated Press early Wednesday morning that she didn't yet know in which city the winning Georgia ticket had been sold.

The numbers, drawn at approximately 11 p.m. Eastern Time Tuesday were 8, 14, 17, 20 and 39, with the Mega Ball number 7.

Otto, who is also the Virginia Lottery's executive director, said $336 million in tickets were sold for Tuesday's drawing -- they had projected $319 million.

"Sales were a little better than we'd anticipated," Otto said. "It was a fun run, it was our first holiday run for either of the big jackpot games."

She said because of the higher sales, the jackpot may be more around $645 million. The final jackpot will be available by midday Wednesday, she said.

The jackpot started its ascent on Oct. 4. Twenty-two draws came and went without a winner, Otto said. She also said a billion worth of tickets were sold during the run, earning the places that offer Mega Millions -- 43 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands -- a total of $300 million.

The jackpot resets to $15 million for the next drawing, which is on Friday night.

"For us, the main thing we'd like to get across is the level of excitement we saw all across California," he said. "At one point, we were selling about 25,000 tickets per minute. It's been an amazing experience. It's unbelievable."

The winners can choose to be paid over time or in a cash lump sum, Otto said. Based on the $636 million figure, the winners would receive $318 million each over time or $170 million each in cash.

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 used to be about 1 in 176 million, nearly the same odds of winning a Powerball jackpot.

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 Tuesday. "But it's hard for such a small amount of money to not take the chance."

The Mega Millions revamp comes about two years after Powerball changed some of its game rules and increased the price of a ticket to $2 and added $1 million and $2 million secondary prizes. Mega Millions remains $1, and an extra $1 option has been expanded to allow up to $5 million as a secondary prize.

The changes in both games were aimed at creating bigger and faster growing jackpots. So far, it looks like it's working.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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