Mega Millions Jackpot Rises Again, Now $636 Million

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Updated: Tue, 17 Dec 2013 01:17:40 EST

The Mega Millions estimated jackpot for Tuesday's drawing has soared to $636 million, making it the second largest jackpot in U.S. history.

The jackpot had been $586 million, but lottery officials increased it Tuesday morning because of strong ticket sales ahead of the evening drawing.

The jackpot now trails only a $656 million Mega Millions pot in March 2012.

Paula Otto, lead director for Mega Millions, says officials expect about 70 percent of the possible number combinations to be purchased. The cash option is $341 million, before taxes.

The jackpot began rolling over Oct. 4 after lottery officials changed the way the game worked, making it more difficult to win. The game has rolled over 21 times since the changes were made.

Previously, players had to pick five numbers between one and 56, and one number between one and 46. The new structure has customers choosing five numbers between one and 75 and one number between one and 15. 

The change in the game increased the odds of winning the big prize from 1 in 176 million to 1 in 259 million, but made it easier to win lesser prizes.

It costs $1 to play Mega Millions, but players can multiply prizes with the Megaplier option for an additional $1 per play.

The record Mega Millions jackpot was $656 million, split  in March of 2012 among three winners, in Illinois, Kansas and Maryland.

The game is played in 43 states, including California, plus the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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