Mega Millions Jackpot Second Largest in Lottery History

By Lauren Wanko

It’s a question most people love to answer. What would you do if you won the lottery?

“First of all, I might faint, but I’d probably take care of my family and probably give some away,” said Tinton Falls resident Ronnie Laing.

“First thing I’d probably do is settle down of course, hopefully not have a heart attack,” said Rob Burr of Neptune.

“I’m self employed so I think I’d close it up, close the doors,” said Anthony Iarossi.

New Jersayans are talking about their dreams of early retirement a lot lately. That’s because the Mega Millions jackpot is up to $636 million. It’s the second largest jackpot in lottery history.

“Well you know jackpot games are really games for dreamers. And what’s happened is the larger the jackpot grows, the more and more people get involved in buying the tickets so now it kinda feeds on itself. As we advertise the jackpot, people say, ‘Wow, I’m gonna go get a ticket. I can’t afford not to be in that game,'” explained New Jersey Lottery Executive Director Carole Hedinger.

For every dollar of a lottery ticket sold, about 50 cents goes into the prize pool. About 16 cents goes toward retailers and covering the cost of running the lottery. About 34 cents is contributed back to the state.

“In New Jersey, by law proceeds go towards education and state institutions,” Hedinger said. “We also support three disabled veterans home. We also support scholarship programs, county college institutional support and institutions for the developmentally disabled.”

Jackpot dreamers packed convenience stores this afternoon, hopeful their ticket’s got the magic numbers.

“I got the winning ticket right here! It’s over!” exclaimed Laing.

“When there’s a jackpot, everyone is crazy. Everyone wants to win. It’s been busier than normal. This morning people have been buying tickets in 20s, 10s and a lot of 25s,” said Hometown Market Operations Manager Dipak Patel.

“Right now we’re selling tickets at about 3,300 transactions a minute,” Hedinger said.

So what are your chances of winning the jackpot tonight? One in 259 million.

“But the chances of winning a prize overall is only one in 15. Remember there are a lot of secondary prizes. Second prize is $1 million,” said Hedinger.

If no one wins tonight, the estimated jackpot for Friday’s drawing is $950 million and that could increase even more. It could be a very Merry Christmas for potential winners.