The Mega Millions jackpot has reached $636 million, the second largest jackpot ever offered in the United States, and Massachusetts residents are scrambling to purchase tickets before tonight’s big drawing.
Roughly $8,800 worth of Mega Millions tickets are being sold every minute in the state. Two million dollars worth of tickets were sold Monday, and strong nationwide sales today prompted officials to increase the jackpot from $586 million to $636 million shortly before nooon.
“If the weather holds up, we are predicting doing more than six million in sales today,” said Massachusetts State Lottery spokeswoman Beth Bresnahan. “Perhaps eight million.”
There have been 22 drawings without a winner, boosting the jackpot to where it stands now. Since last Tuesday’s drawing, the jackpot has grown more than $83 million, Bresnahan said. The next drawing for the jackpot is at 11 p.m. tonight.
The odds of winning are one in 258,890,850, Bresnahan said.
Assuming there is one winner, there are two options for the huge payout: $636 million spread out in annual payments over 30 years, or a lump sum payout of $341.2 million before taxes.
The largest Mega Millions jackpot was recorded in March 2012, when the pot reached $656 million. The money was split three ways, between ticketholders in Kansas, Illinois, and Maryland, said Bresnahan.
The drawing will take place in Atlanta at 11 p.m. For those who will be anxiously listening for each number uttered, results will be streamed on WCVB-TV (Channel 5), www.masslottery.com, and will be posted on Twitter and Facebook.
“Yesterday I sold 300 Mega Million tickets,” said Raj Sarma, an employee at Primo’s Convenience Store on Joy Street in Boston. “Today we have sold $37 worth, but after noon it is going to be crazy.”
At Vista Donuts in Attleboro this morning, a line formed to the four Mega Millions ticket machines.
“I was here at six and there was a long line; the building was getting crowded,” said Rita Laport, an employee at the shop. “They are following the dream.”
If no winner emerges after tonight’s drawing, the jackpot will grow significantly — nearing the magic number of $1 billion.
“If there is no winner tonight, the estimated jackpot is jumping to $950 milllion, which is astronomical,” Bresnahan said.