Lottery Fever: Mega Millions, Powerball Jackpots Grow

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Lottery fever is spreading across the nation as both the Mega Millions and Powerball jackpots reach eye-popping numbers.

Since no one won the jackpot in Tuesday's Mega Million drawing, the pot has swelled to $154 million - or a $115.2 million cash prize. The jackpot increased from $139 million last week.

Powerball players, meanwhile, are grabbing tickets in hopes of capturing the $270 million jackpot, or a $175.8 million cash prize, in Saturday's drawing.

The Powerball jackpot swelled after no one matched all the winning numbers in Wednesday's drawing. Four tickets just missed the jackpot, including $2 million winners sold in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Nebraska, and a $1 million winner sold in New Jersey.

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Likewise, not everyone went away empty-handed in Tuesday's Mega Millions drawing. In Pennsylvania, two Mega Millions tickets worth $250,000 each were sold at retailers in Philadelphia, the state's lottery officials said. Three other people across the country reportedly also won the $250,000 prize.

The next drawing for Mega Millions, played in 42 states as well as the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands, will take place at 11 p.m. Friday.

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The odds of winning Mega Millions' top prize are about 1 in 176 million, while your chances striking it rich with Powerball, offered in 44 states, are one in 175 million.

Richard Lustig is a seven-time lottery winner in Florida who plays the lottery every single day.

Appearing on "Good Morning America" last year, Lustig shared the tips he uses for buying his tickets:

  1. Pick your own numbers. Don't leave it up to the machine. Lustig advises against playing Quick Picks, the phrase describing the number the computer picks for you when you don't use your own.
  2. Do your homework. Go online and make sure the set or sets of numbers you play have never come up before.
  3. Stick with your strategy. You have to learn what number to play and how often to play. Commit to your numbers and stick to your strategy.
  4. Avoid lottery fever. When jackpots get very high , Lustig says, people tend to get lottery fever and spend a lot more than they normally would or can afford. Don't go crazy; the odds are still the same no matter how much you spend.

The price of a Powerball ticket doubled in January 2012 from $1 a game to $2, which has accounted for the swelling jackpots, according to lottery officials.

In March, a single Powerball ticket sold in New Jersey matched all six numbers, winning a $338.3 million jackpot, the sixth largest in history.

The largest Powerball jackpot ever, totaling $587.5 million, came in November when a Missouri couple and an Arizona man split the winnings.

Mega Millions, which sells for $1, has seen four big jackpots won this year. In March, 14 people in an Ohio office lottery pool won $41 million. In February, an anonymous player in Maryland won $26 million, while a Michigan woman won $19 million.

The largest jackpot in Mega Millions history was $656 million. Three tickets sold in three separate states matched the winning numbers in March 2012.

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