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Mega Millions jackpot hits $586 million, $70M shy of record

Manuel Cruz, of Freeport, buys $68 worth of

Manuel Cruz, of Freeport, buys $68 worth of lotto tickets. (Dec. 16, 2013) Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

Using history as a reference, there's a good chance Tuesday's Mega Millions jackpot surpasses last year's record of $656 million.

The Mega prize is projected to be $586 million after no one matched all six numbers in Friday's drawing.

The expected prize already got one bump on Monday, from an announced jackpot of $550 million. Lottery officials said the increase was because of "strong sales across all 43 participating states, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands."

It is common for jackpots to "bump" in size because of higher-than-expected sales, especially when they grow to $300 million or more.

Take the bump in the record $656 million prize of March 30, 2012, for example.

The announced prize for the March 27 drawing was $363 million, and when no winning ticket was sold, it grew to $640 million for March 30. That marked an increase of $277 million -- the largest overall increase in the Mega game from one announced draw date to the next, the New York Lottery said Monday.

Ultimately, the $656 million jackpot -- the largest for a U.S. lottery game -- was split three ways by winners in Kansas, Illinois and Maryland.

Tuesday's jackpot needs a bump of $70 million to match the record.

At least one lottery official said it could happen.

Paula Otto, executive director of the Virginia Lottery and Mega Millions' lead director, told The Associated Press on Sunday that sales were up by as much as 20 percent over weekend numbers and were expected to spike Tuesday.

"I think we'll be very close to the record, and maybe even surpass it," Otto told the AP, adding that sales are difficult to predict.

"Lotto players are procrastinators," she said. "They tend to buy on the day of the draw."

A New York Lottery spokeswoman said it's too early to project whether a record might be set.

Two New York tickets matched five of Friday's numbers -- 19, 24, 26, 27 and 70 -- but not the Mega ball of 12. Those two tickets are worth $1 million each.

The two New York $1 million tickets were sold in Syracuse and Manhattan, according to lottery officials.

Nationwide, seven other $1 million tickets were sold.

Overall, Tuesday's Mega prize ranks as the fourth largest among U.S. lottery jackpots, behind Powerball payoffs of $590.5 million on May 18 and $587.5 million on Nov. 28, 2012.

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