Mega Millions Rolls, New Jackpot Is $476M

Friday's jackpot near the half a billion mark.

By R. Stickney and Megan Tevrizian
|  Wednesday, Mar 28, 2012  |  Updated 7:36 AM PDT
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Lottery officials said no one picked all six numbers. They estimate Friday's jackpot will be $476 million. That is an all time record.

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With a jackpot estimated at $363 million up for grabs, convenience stores around the country witnessed a spike in ticket sales.

In Southern California, one store owner said he expected to sell at least 7,000 tickets by the time the Mega Millions lottery closes for Tuesday's drawing. To compare, the 7/11 sells around 300 on an average day.

"Everybody's interested,” said store manager Michael Stowe. “Too much money not to try to win."

Some may argue there's no such thing as too much money but the concept may apply to the growing jackpot that outpaced the forecasted $356 million by the beginning of the day Tuesday.

Now at an estimated $363 million, a single winning ticket would net one of the largest jackpots in the multi-state lottery's history.

Odds of winning are about one in 176 million but that doesn't seem to phase people who are looking to strike it rich.

Lou Martinez and her friend Pam Harbin, play the lottery every week.

"I'm a single mom, so yes, I want to win," Martinez said.

But for Tuesday night's drawing, the friends bought an extra ticket just in case.

Martinez said she’ll be crossing her fingers and praying to God when the numbers roll out of the hopper around 8 p.m.

"I'm not picky, I'm not so greedy, I'll even take a lot less," said Harbin.

The high stakes have people trying just about anything to predict those lucky digits, Stowe said.

"People have their own numbers they try to play, they get numbers out of a fortune cookie, they have their own lucky numbers, their children's birthdays," Stowe said.

Any Mega Millions jackpot winner has the option to choose annual payments over a 26-year period or a one-time payment equal to all the case in the prize pool.

The cash option for Tuesday's drawing is $259 million.

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