- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Half a billion dollars so far: That’s the record-setting jackpot level that Mega Millions is promising for one lucky winner in Tuesday’s draw.

“We’ve never had a jackpot this high the week before Christmas,” said Virginia’s lottery director, Paula Otto, to Reuters. “You like to seek winners, and you like to see big jackpots. I leave it in the hands of the bouncing balls.”

Lottery players can purchase tickets any time before Tuesday’s 11 p.m. drawing — and Ms. Otto predicted the last-minute rush would put the winning jackpot at more than half a billion dollars. On Monday, the prize rose to $586 million, and up to 70 percent of tickets are generally purchases the day of the drawing, she said, in NBC News.

So far, the record jackpot was $656 million in March 2012. The Powerball jackpot for May 2013 hit at $590.5 million. But this Mega Millions draw holds the potential to break both those records.

“If it doesn’t surpass the record,” Ms. Otto said, in NBC, “we’ll be close. It’s growing a little faster than we thought.”