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Mega Millions Lottery Fever Heats Up With Near Record Jackpot

Mark Abrams Mark Abrams
Mark Abrams is a versatile part of the KYW Newsradio family, serving...
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By Mark Abrams and Cleve Bryan

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Mega Millions lottery is heading for record territory with officials projecting a spike in sales between now and Tuesday night’s drawing – boosting the jackpot well beyond half-a-billion dollars.

The Mega Millions website shows the jackpot for Tuesday’s drawing is estimated at $586 million, the second-largest in history. But officials say weekend sales and an expected last-minute ticket rush will likely push that amount much higher, perhaps close to exceeding the $656 million Mega Millions record jackpot from March 2012.

Luther of Southwest Philadelphia bought some tickets at the newsstand in SEPTA’s Market East station. He likes his chances.

“I’m with two groups and I still do my little thing on my own,” he says. “But I’m trying to expand my chances.”

So what would Luther do with all that money?

“I would donate a decent portion of it to charity,” he says, “And, I would divide it with my family, you know, siblings, children, mother and father.”

Dorothy of North Philadelphia was also feeling lucky. She says if she hits lots of people will benefit.

“(I’d) share with everybody that I love,” she says. “Charity. Whole lots of people.”

And in southern New Jersey, many were racing to the store to pick up their tickets. Already in 2013, three jackpot-winning tickets have been sold in the Garden State, and since 2007, NJ has sold six jackpot-winning tickets worth over $200 million each.

“I’ve got 15 children, and one of my children’s birthdays is on each of those numbers,” said Harvey Cutts, who was at a Camden County convenience store getting lottery tickets.

“I hope I get lucky,” another man said.

A few months ago, lottery officials increased the number of white balls to 75 and reduced the amount of gold balls to 15 in the Mega Millions game. What does it mean to casual players as well as the regulars? The odds of winning really haven’t grown. You still have a one in 259 million chance of scoring the big jackpot.