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Mega Millions mania in the SCV

Posted: December 18, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: December 18, 2013 2:00 a.m.
 

Santa Clarita Valley residents joined lottery fans throughout the country in a mega run on Mega Millions lottery tickets on Tuesday.

“My dad went to one store so I thought I would mix it up and come here,” said Mike Schmidt as he left the Jr. Market store on Lyons Avenue at Newhall Avenue clutching a fan of purchased lottery tickets.

Inside the store, more than a dozen prospective ticket buyers lined up for a chance to win a multimillion-dollar prize.
“I pick my own tickets,” said Gary Coffey of Santa Monica as he stood in line, holding cards of selected numbers.

“I saw a show on TV by this guy who’s won six lotteries who said that ‘Quick Picks’ never win,” he said. “You gotta pick your own.”

The numbers for the $636 million Mega Millions jackpot were drawn Tuesday night. Now, the country waits to see if there’s a winner of the second largest lottery jackpot in U.S. history.

The winning numbers were: 8, 14, 17, 20, 39; Mega Ball: 7. The cash option is estimated at $341 million, before taxes.

The record jackpot was a $656 million Mega Millions prize in March 2012. If a winner isn’t selected either Tuesday night or for Friday’s drawing, the jackpot could hit $1 billion, said Paula Otto, executive director of the Virginia Lottery and lead director for Mega Millions. That’s an unheard of amount for Mega Millions or Powerball, the nation’s two main lottery games.

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.

Tickets sold for Tuesday’s drawing at a pace that surpassed even the lottery’s expectations, said Paula Otto, executive director of the Virginia Lottery and lead director for Mega Millions.

Otto said officials expected about 70 percent of the possible number combinations to be purchased for Tuesday’s drawing.

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.

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

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