The latest winning tickets were sold in California and Georgia
DES MOINES- There were two winning tickets in Tuesday night’s Mega Millions drawing. The jackpot, set at $636 million at the time the winning numbers were picked, was going to grow and was likely to wind up closer to $648 million, according to Alex Traverso, a spokesperson for the California Lottery.
Both $636 million and $648 million would be the second largest jackpot in U.S. lottery history. The largest was $656 million.
Traverso told CBS News the final total was still being tallied early Wednesday.
The latest winning tickets were sold in California and Georgia.
Traverso says the holders of the two winning tickets will split the jackpot.
He says one ticket matching all six numbers was sold in San Jose, Calif., at Jennifer’s Gift Shop.
Georgia lottery officials say the other was sold at the Gateway Newsstand in Atlanta. The newsstand is in a mall.
“For us, the main thing we’d like to get across is the level of excitement we saw all across California,” Traverso told The Associated Press. “At one point, we were selling about 25,000 tickets per minute.
“It’s been an amazing experience. It’s unbelievable.”
The winning numbers were 8, 14, 17, 20, 39; Mega Ball: 7.
The winners can choose to be paid over time or in a cash lump sum, lottery officials said. Based on the $636 million figure, the winners would receive $318 million each over time or $170 million each in cash. The cash option was estimated at $341 million before taxes.
The jackpot now resets to $15 million for the next drawing, which is on Friday night.
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.
“Oh, I think there’s absolutely no way I am going to win this lottery,” said Tanya Joosten, 39, an educator at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee who bought several tickets Tuesday. “But it’s hard for such a small amount of money to not take the chance.”
Tickets sold for Tuesday’s drawing at a pace that surpassed even the lottery’s expectations, said Mega Millions lead director Paula Otto, who is also executive director of the Virginia Lottery. Otto said officials expected about 70 percent of the possible number combinations to be purchased for Tuesday’s drawing.
She said the jackpot started its ascent on Oct. 4. Twenty-two draws came and went without a winner, Otto said. She also said a billion dollars worth of tickets were sold during the run.
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, they appear to be working.
Mega Millions is played in 43 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.