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Mega Millions jackpot rises to record $330 million this week

by Jorge Hernandez on January 4, 2011

The Mega Millions lottery jackpot has climbed to $330 million for Tuesday night's drawing after 15 consecutive weeks produced no winner, approaching a record high in U.S. history.

The lottery cycle began on November 12 with a top prize that regularly begins at $12 million and rolls over each consecutive week. The jackpot was estimated to be about $242 million last Friday, ABC News reports.

Tuesday's drawing was originally slated at $290 million but jumped to $330 million after the unusually large sales on Monday, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

If Tuesday's drawing does produce a winner, they are likely to receive about $208.3 million in cash, as about 25 percent of the winnings go to federal and state taxes. The odds of winning the jackpot are about 1 in 176 million, according to ABC News.

Tickets for the lottery are sold in 41 states as well as the District of Columbia and cost $1 each, requiring players to match five numbers and an extra Mega ball. Other prizes can range from $2 to $250,000.

The largest Mega Millions jackpot was estimated at about $390 million in 2007. Tuesday night's jackpot is slated as the fifth-highest jackpot in Mega Millions history and seventh-biggest of all time.

The large offering has raised the hopes of ticket-buyers across the nation. Stores across New Jersey sold 4,000 tickets per minute on Monday afternoon and one million tickets were sold in Pennsylvania, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

"It's exciting. You think, 'What am I going to do in my plane, where am I going to go, how big a house will I live in.' It's a level of fantasy we all engage in, somebody will win that, it could be you," Emily Oster told ABC News.

If there is to be another roll-over, the next jackpot could set an all-time record high of over $400 million, the Inquirer reports.

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