Dec. 18 - Numbers are drawn in Atlanta for the Mega Millions jackpot that is currently worth $636 million and could become the biggest U.S. lottery prize in history. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) A last-minute ticket-buying frenzy a week before Christmas inflated Tuesday's (December 17) Mega Millions jackpot to $636 million. It's on the way to becoming the biggest U.S. lottery prize in history, a game official said. The prize swelled after a spike in sales early on Tuesday before the 11:00 p.m. EST (0400 GMT, Dec. 18) draw, said Paula Otto, Virginia's lottery director. If the winner chooses to take the lump sum cash option, instead of payments over 30 years, the jackpot would be $341 million, Otto said. As much as 70 percent of tickets are typically bought on the day of the draw, she said. The surge of spending pushed the prize closer to the record U.S. jackpot of $656 million, won in March 2012 in a Mega Millions draw. If no one picks the exact combination of numbers that appear on six randomly selected lottery balls, the prize will keep ballooning until the next draw on Friday, when the numbers were projected to jump to a $950 million jackpot with a $509 million cash option.