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Mega Millions jackpot reaches $636M

The ever-growing Mega Millions lottery jackpot stands at the second-largest in U.S. history ahead of Tuesday night's drawing amid a flurry of last-minute ticket sales.

Tuesday's Mega Millions jackpot has increased to $636 million, Maryland Lottery officials said on Tuesday. As of midday Tuesday, 6,041 tickets were being purchased per minute in Maryland, or 101 per second, said Maryland lottery spokeswoman Erica Palmisano.

"Any time it surpasses a half-billion dollars, it adds to the excitement," Palmisano said. "You get people who usually don't play as well as those who play regularly. It has everyone talking."

The largest lottery jackpot in U.S. history, $656 million in the Mega Millions, was split among winners in Maryland, Kansas and Illinois last year. Tuesday's jackpot ranks as the second largest, lottery officials said.

The last Mega Millions drawing was Friday. Lottery officials estimate this Friday's jackpot would reach $950 million if there's no winner Tuesday.

Tuesday's Mega Millions jackpot has a $341.2 million cash option, Palmisano said. If a Marylander is the sole winner, that person would net $226 million in cash or a $16.2 million annuity for 29 years, after taxes.

If no winner is drawn Tuesday and a Marylander is the sole winner in Friday's drawing, he or she would take home $337.6 million in cash or a $24.2 million annuity, after taxes, Palmisano said.

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