UK & World News

  • 17 December 2013, 6:43

Mega Millions Jackpot Could Surpass Record

The US Mega Millions jackpot has soared to $586m (360m) following a frenzy of ticket purchases.

The jump pushed the prize closer to the $656m (402m) record set last year.

Paula Otto, executive director of the Virginia Lottery and Mega Millions' lead director, said ticket sales are ahead of projections for today's draw, increasing the likelihood that the record could fall.

If the prize goes unclaimed for a 22nd consecutive drawing, the next one would probably shatter the record set in March 2012, she said.

"I think we'll be very close to the record, and maybe even surpass it," Ms Otto said, adding that sales are difficult to predict.

That was enough for Drew Gentsch to play one ticket on Monday morning. The attorney from Des Moines, Iowa, never plays, but the jackpot was too good to pass up.

"I think it's ridiculous, but you have to dream big," he said. "The odds of winning are so low there's no real reason to play. But it's fun to do so once in a while."

Between 65% and 75% of the roughly 259 million possible number combinations will be in play when the numbers are drawn, Ms Otto estimated.

She said the jackpot may be increased one more time this morning in advance of the evening drawing.

"Lotto players are procrastinators. They tend to buy on the day of the draw," she said.

:: Watch Sky News live on television, on Sky channel 501, Virgin Media channel 602, Freeview channel 82 and Freesat channel 202.