Mega Millions Jackpot May Reach Record-Breaking Sum

Odds of winning the Mega Millions jackpot go down, but the jackpot amount goes up.

A billboard shows the jackpot for Powerball and the Mega Millions prize-winning tickets Monday, Dec. 16, 2013, in Hialeah, Fla.
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Whether it's related to Katniss' drawing for the life-threatening "Hunger Games" or a drawing for a life-changing lottery jackpot, the phrase "may the odds be ever in your favor" contains a lot more wishful thinking than actual probability -- mainly because the odds aren't in anyone's favor in either situation.

One individual, favored by the odds, could receive $586 million from the Mega Millions jackpot Tuesday night. But the probability of someone winning the grand prize is slim.

The odds are so slim that CNN reports it's more likely a person will be killed by an asteroid than hit the jackpot.

[READ: 400 Million Powerball Prize Has a Winner]

The odds of winning got even slimmer on Oct. 22, when Mega Millions increased the chances from 1 in 176 million to 1 in 259 million.

 

But as the odds of winning the jackpot have gotten slimmer, the amount of money in the jackpot has grown. After Friday's drawing, when a winning number was not selected for the lotto drawing, the jackpot jumped from $425 million to $550 million. On Monday, the jackpot rose again to $586 million.

And with ticket sales ahead of projection, the grand prize may increase once more before the big drawing Tuesday night, Paula Otto, executive director of the Virginia Lottery, told The Associated Press.

As jackpots get larger, individuals that don't normally play take their chances with the lottery, Otto told USA Today. Participation grows when there's a "phenomenal jackpot," Otto said.

[ALSO: Powerball Winners in New Jersey Still Unconfirmed]

The current jackpot would be the second-largest ever, falling behind the $656 million prize tallied in April of 2012.

"I think we'll be very close to the record, and maybe even surpass it," Otto said, adding that it was hard to predict lotto ticket sales. "Lotto players are procrastinators. They tend to buy on the day of the draw."

CNN reports the payout could reach $1 billion by Christmas, if winning numbers are not selected.

An estimated 65 to 75 percent of the 259 million possible number sequences will be in play when the numbers are drawn, Otto said.

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