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Historic lottery jackpot brings out South Boston crowds

The Apple Market on Halifax Road in South Boston was busy Thursday morning, but it wasn’t because of falling gas prices. Residents were filing in to purchase a Mega Millions lottery ticket in hopes of winning the historic $540 million jackpot.


The Mega Millions jackpot has grown to historic proportions, lottery officials said Thursday. 

At press time Thursday afternoon, the estimated jackpot for Friday was $540 million, the largest ever for the Mega Millions lottery, breaking the old record of $390 million set March 6, 2007.

“Sales have been going up all week, but ever since yesterday people we have never even seen before have been coming in to buy tickets,” said Apple Market Manager Mary Bowes.

Thursday morning Bowes said she hadn’t had time to look through the paperwork from the week, but she was certain sales had significantly increased.

“This morning we had a line almost to the back of the store of people waiting to purchase a ticket,” she added.

Mega Millions officials initially set the estimate at $476 million, but with stronger than anticipated sales nationwide, it became clear the jackpot for Friday’s drawing would be much larger.

Seven Mega Millions jackpots have been won in Virginia since the game began in 2002.

Mega Millions drawings are held Tuesdays and Fridays at 11 p.m. Eastern time. For more information go to The odds of winning the jackpot are approximately one in 176 million. The odds of winning any of the Mega Millions prizes are approximately 1 in 40.

The Virginia Lottery generates approximately $1.2 million per day for Virginia’s K-12 public schools. Operating entirely on revenue from the sale of lottery products, rather than tax dollars, the Virginia Lottery generated more than $444 million for Virginia’s public schools in fiscal year 2011. That represents about 8 percent of state funding for public education in Virginia.