Mega Millions jackpot rises to new high: $540 million

'There's buzz everywhere,' says lottery spokeswoman for record-high pot

March 29, 2012|By Luke Broadwater, The Baltimore Sun

Lottery officials Thursday raised the record-setting Mega Millions jackpot even higher — to $540 million.

"It's breaking the record that already broke records," said Carole Everett, communications director for the Maryland State Lottery.

Representatives from 42 states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands decided to raise the jackpot from its previous high of $500 million during a conference call this morning, Everett said.

"Everybody's excited," she said. "It's all people are talking about. When it gets to this level, a lot of people play who don't normally play. There's a buzz everywhere."

During the conference call, the states discussed revenue, ticket sales and projections to determine how high the pot should go, Everett said.

The cash option has been raised from $359.4 million to $389.8 million.

"Our sales are significantly higher than they were prior to the [larger] jackpot," Everett said.

On Wednesday, Mega Millions sales in Maryland totaled $1.76 million, about five times more than the $320,000 in sales one week ago. Lottery officials say they are selling close to $5,000 worth of tickets per minute.

Odds to win the Mega Millions are 176 million to one. The next drawing is Friday.

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