NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/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.
In New York, tickets were 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.
Friday’s drawing will be the second-largest Mega Millions jackpot ever, trailing only a $656 million jackpot won in March 2012, and the fifth largest lottery jackpot of any kind in U.S. history.
“It would be foolish not to grab a ticket,” one man told 1010 WINS’ John Montone. “You’ve got to be in it to win it.”
“I want to get rich,” another man said. “Want all the money in the world.”
Powerball jackpots started ballooning more quickly after the game increased its ticket price in January 2012 from $1 to $2, Mega Millions operators kept the price of a ticket at $1.
But in October, Mega Millions significantly lowered the odds of winning the jackpot, thereby increasing the chances of it rolling over. The current jackpot has rolled over 20 times without a winner.
Mega Millions, which originally was played in 12 states, expanded its reach alongside Powerball after a 2010 licensing agreement. Both games are now played in 43 states, plus the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
While Mega Millions remains $1 a ticket, five of the six numbers needed for a jackpot win now range from 1 to 75, instead of the previous 1 to 56. The sixth number, which is the gold Mega Millions ball, is now from 1 to 15 in the revamp, instead of 1 to 46.
The changes decreased the odds of winning the Mega Millions jackpot from about 1 in 176 million, which is nearly the odds of winning Powerball’s jackpot, to roughly 1 in 259 million.
The operators of both Mega Millions and Powerball are emphasizing the expansion of secondary prizes of $1 million or more that players can win.
For Mega Millions and its current $1 ticket, an extra $1 option has been expanded to allow players to increase their secondary prize total to between $1 million and $5 million. Powerball introduced $1 million and $2 million prizes in January 2012.
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