Aug. 25, 2009 -- The $252 million Mega Millions jackpot numbers were drawn amid lottery fever across the country.
The winning Mega Millions lottery numbers were: 3, 12, 19, 22 and 40 with the Mega Ball, 2.
With no winner Tuesday night, the jackpot now stands at $325 million for Friday's drawing.
The unusually high lottery prize has drawn in players in each of the 12 participating states as people dream of getting rich off their $1 investment.
"With jackpots of this size, you start to see people who don't normally play a game like Mega Millions buying a ticket," said Dominick DeMarco, a spokesman for the New Jersey Lottery. "They may notice it's over 100 million, and they'll say, 'OK, I'll take a shot at it.'"
The publicity of large jackpots from local newspapers and vendor signs help bring the lottery to the attention of new players, he said.
That had led more and more players to pick up tickets.
It also doesn't hurt that a retired South Carolina state employee won the $260 million Powerball jackpot last week. Solomon Jackson Jr., of Columbia, S.C., came forward Tuesday afternoon as the sole winner of the lottery.
In Massachusetts, lottery officials there said 3,300 tickets a minute were being sold across the state during the peak hours. Yes, 3,300 tickets every 60 seconds.
In Georgia, the lottery expects 6 million Mega Millions tickets will be sold there for this drawing. That compares to 1.2 million for Tuesday sales on the start of a prior jackpot run.
In the 2 p.m. hour alone, 255,000 tickets sold in Georgia. That's about 4,250 a minute and ticket sales tend to increase in the after-work hours.
"Whenever we have a large jackpot, there is always excitement across the state and that translates into additional dollars for the educational programs we fund," said Tandi Reddick, a spokeswoman for the Georgia lottery.
Mega Millions Winning Jackpot
The winner of the Mega Millions jackpot can either take the cash as one big lump sum -- estimated to be $159.2 million -- or get the full $252 million prize paid out over 26 years.
But before you start counting your money, consider this: The odds of winning the jackpot are approximately one in 176 million. The odds of winning any of the smaller Mega Millions prizes, given for matching some of the numbers, are approximately 1 in 40.
While the recession has taken a hit on ticket sales for some state lotteries, states are counting on large jackpots like this one for Mega Millions and the recent $260 million Powerball prize to help drive sales.
Players will often wait for these very large jackpots to decide to play.
"It's all jackpot-driven," said Jennifer Givner, spokeswoman for the New York state lottery. "We're at a quarter of a billion dollars right now -- it's an incredible amount of money that could be entirely life-changing. It's a dollar and a dream, and it's great."
It's the same story in Illinois.
"When they see such a large number, they get interested," said lottery spokesman Tracy Owens, who added that "$252 million is certainly something that gets people's attention."
There's often no shortage of places to buy the tickets. Retailers like the high jackpots because they get a portion of ticket sales and also draw customers into their stores to maybe buy other goods. In New York alone, players with the "jackpot fever" can buy tickets from more than 16,000 retailers.
States also depend on the money to help fund their budgets.
For the 2008 fiscal year, New Yorkers bought $7.5 billion worth of lottery tickets. Though sales saw a slight decrease in the first quarter of the 2009 fiscal year, Mega Millions jackpot games have helped pick up sales, Givner said.
"With the recession, there's less disposable income so we're constantly fighting with other products on the market in entertainment," she said. "We've been creative and able to sustain our sales."
A Growing Lottery Jackpot
Like other big multi-state lotteries, the Mega Millions jackpot starts at $12 million. If nobody wins, the jackpot grows and grows. The more people that play, the larger the jackpot.
Mega Millions started this jackpot run on July 10. It has since rolled over 13 times. The game continues to roll and the jackpot continues to grow, until a ticket produces all six winning lottery numbers. The largest Mega Millions jackpot -- $390 million -- was hit in March 2007.
In Michigan, sales for the $252 million jackpot drawing were about $2.13 million as of 11 a.m. on Tuesday. Sales for a $37 million jackpot at the same time period were $643,000 said Andi Brancato, spokeswoman for the Michigan State Lottery.
"A Mega Millions ticket is only a dollar, so it can be very affordable and appealing for a huge number of people," said Brancato, adding that the state has tickets for various lottery games ranging in cost from 50 cents to $50.