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Mega Millions lottery jackpot soars to $363 million

March 27, 2012 |  8:04 am

The Mega Millions jackpot has climbed to $363 million, and if a winning number is drawn Tuesday night, the lucky ticket holder will be able to choose a cash option payout of $259.8 million, California lottery officials said.

When the drawing occurs at 8 p.m., ticket holders will be vying for the third-largest Mega Millions jackpot of all time, according to KTLA-TV.

The total is rapidly approaching the state record, a $390 million payout won in March 2007.

After Friday’s drawing for $290 million came and went without a jackpot winner, officials had projected the pot–-based on ticket sales at the time of drawing–-would grow to $356 million.

On Monday, they upped the figure by $7 million, saying sales have outpaced expectations.

The lottery places the odds of winning Mega Millions at about one in 1 in 176 million. The retailer who sells the winning ticket will receive a maximum $1 million bonus.

Tickets will be sold until 7:45 p.m.

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--Matt Stevens

Twitter.com/mattstevenslat

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