At $275M, Lotto Jackpot Overflows

For some lucky soul, the phrase "Thank God It's Friday" may soon take on a whole new meaning.

The pot in the 12-state Mega Millions lottery has climbed to an estimated $275 million.

At 11 p.m. ET Friday, a lotto employee in Atlanta will draw six numbers and someone, somewhere, has a one in 175,711,536 chance of nailing the six-number combo.

Depending on the state where the ticket was sold, a lump sum payout could be in the neighborhood of $160 million, depending on the tax laws.

Or the cash could be divied up into annual, multimillion-dollar payments.

Either way, not bad.

Despite sleet conditions, at 4 p.m. in Massachusetts, sales were humming along at 7,000 tickets per minute, according to state treasurer Tim Cahill.

"It's a bit of a frenzy, but it's a good thing," said Cahill, who explained that Massachusetts, where ticket sales have contributed to $27 million of the current jackpot, will receive $11 million to return to towns from the current pot alone.

"Hopefully, we'll get a Massachusetts winner," he said.

But the odds are against it. Players there are competing with Lotto enthusiasts in 11 other states, including in huge population centers like Texas, California and New York.

The jackpot is so big because it has been growing since Jan. 9, the last time a player hit all five numbers from the main drawing bag and the additional sixth "megaball."

With drawings held on Tuesdays and Fridays, there have now been 14 Mega Millions drawings without a jackpot winner.

If no one wins this drawing, the pot will grow to an estimated $340 million, and a Mega Millions spokesman said the drawing would take place in New York City's Times Square.

The Mega Millions prize is approaching the world's all-time lottery payout record of $365 million, in a February 2006 Powerball drawing. The Powerball drawing is available to residents in 29 states and the Washington, D.C.

"This is huge," John Hagerty, the spokesman for the Virginia Lottery, said. "And every time someone buys a ticket, the jackpot goes up."

Mega Millions is played in California, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Texas, Virginia and Washington.

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