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Mega Million mania grows

Friday evening lottery players waited with tickets in their hands only to find that no one would win the jackpot that has since rose to $636 million.

Paula Otto, executive director of the Virginia Lottery and lead director for Mega Millions, told the Associated Press ticket sales were ahead of projections for Tuesday’s drawing, increasing the likelihood it could shatter the current record of $656 million, set in a March 2012 Mega Millions drawing.

According to Centerville Apple Market Assistant Manager Neva Hall, the Mega Million hasn’t increased normal sales, but she has seen an increase in lottery sales. 

“We usually go through a lot of lottery sales anyway with our normal customers, but I have seen an increase,” Hall said Tuesday morning. 

The drawing for the million was Tuesday night, and according to Hall, the closer it got to the day of the drawing, even more were coming in, and some came in groups. 

 “Some come from their job with a pool, and it’ll seem like a lot of money until you see the list of the names they have playing,” said Hall. 

At $1 a ticket, players select five different numbers from 1 through 75 and then select one Mega Ball number from 1 through 15. 

To win the jackpot, the player has to match all six numbers, but there are also other prizes to win. 

While the assistant manager said Tuesday she had even purchased three tickets herself for that night’s drawing, Hall said to her knowledge not many employees have played.  

 “A lot of people usually say that I should play more, but I usually don’t. But like I tell customers, you have to be in it to win it,” said Hall. 

This worker said she would probably keep on working even if she won and said she would use the money to pay off her and her mother’s bills as well as buy a house and some land. 

Ralph Lacks of Scottsburg is a usual player of the lottery who decided to take his chances yet again Tuesday. 

 “Nobody has left me any money, so I have to make my own, “ said Lacks. 

If they were to call his numbers, Lacks said if he didn’t have a heart attack first, he would want to use the money to help out family and friends. 

Other players such as Herbert Ballou are taking the risk for the first time. 

Ballou of South Boston said he chose to play because of the high stakes but did not really expect to win. 

“If by chance I did win, I’d probably throw it up in the air,” said Ballou laughing. “I really don’t know what I would do with that much money. It would probably drive me crazy.” 

According to the Virginia lottery website, the odds of winning the Mega Millions jackpot are 1 in 258,890,850.

If no one wins this time around, the jackpot will continue to grow by at least $5 million each time. 

If no one wins by Christmas Eve, it could reach up to a billion dollars.  

Otto told the Associated Press, “To have that kind of money on the line the week before Christmas, we’ve never had that happen before. What fun.”