A last-minute rush of ticket buying could push the Mega Millions jackpot into record territory before the drawing on Tuesday, lottery officials say.
As of early Tuesday, the jackpot stood at $586 million -- the second-largest in the game's history -- with a cash-payout option of $316 million. However, that number could swell as lottery players rush to buy their tickets before the deadline.
As much of 70% of tickets are typically purchased the day of the drawing, Paula Otto, Virginia's lottery director, who heads the multi-state Mega Millions game, told the Chicago Tribune. That could push the jackpot closer to the record Mega Millions haul of $656 million, which was split between winners in three states in March 2012.
"If it doesn't surpass the record, we'll be close. It's growing a little faster than we thought," Otto said.
The growth was due to people like 26-year-old Marcos Rodriguez. He said he doesn't play the lottery often, but on Monday, he was filling in the bubbles of a Mega Millions ticket inside an East Hollywood 7-Eleven.
"Just when the money's high up," he said.
At Dick's Liquor in Koreatown, clerk Jose Bachez said a lot of customers had been buying tickets, including one who spent about $50.
The odds, though, are long -- 1 in 259 million.
The game is played in 43 states, as well as the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.