December 18, 2013 | Vol. 94, No. 296

Mega Millions jackpot hits $636 million

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The numbers have been drawn for the $636 million Mega Millions jackpot.

Associated Press
A woman picks her Mega Millions lottery numbers at a shop in New York\'s Penn Station, Tuesday.

The winning numbers on Tuesday night were: 8, 14, 17, 20, 39; Mega Ball: 7.

It's the second-largest lottery jackpot in U.S. history.

The Mega Millions jackpot has been growing for weeks because of a game revamp that dramatically lowered the odds of winning the top prize to about 1 in 259 million.

It used to be about 1 in 176 million, nearly the same odds of winning a Powerball jackpot.

It was unknown Tuesday night if anyone matched the winning numbers.

The jackpot now trails only a $656 million Mega Millions pot that was sold in March 2012.

"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 on Tuesday. "But it's hard for such a small amount of money to not take the chance."

Annie Pedersen also said she wanted to be part of the action, so she jumped in and bought two tickets at a Milwaukee grocery.

"Everybody is so excited about it so I wanted to get in on some of the excitement, too, by watching," she said.

Tickets were selling at a pace that surpassed even the lottery's expectations.

"We estimate by drawing time we'll be about $75 million ahead in sales," said Paula Otto, executive director of the Virginia Lottery and lead director for Mega Millions.

Otto said officials expect about 70 percent of the possible number combinations to be purchased for Tuesday night's drawing. She also noted that if a winner isn't selected either Tuesday night or for Friday's drawing, the jackpot could hit $1 billion - an unheard of amount for Mega Millions or Powerball, the nation's two main lottery games.

Mega Millions is played in 43 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

If no one matches the winning numbers the total rolls over to the next drawing scheduled for Friday evening.