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Mega Millions: Officials say drawing likely to produce winner

March 30, 2012 |  7:14 pm

Mega Millions

Lottery officials said the chances are strong that someone will win the record $640-million Mega Millions jackpot drawn Friday night.

The prize got so big because no one won for several weeks.

"The odds of the jackpot rolling [over to another drawing] is going down significantly," Mega Millions spokesman Alex Traverso said. "Our estimates are saying that by the time the draw happens, 95% of the possible number combinations will be sold."

Traverso said California Lottery officials will probably know about any big winners as early as 8:15 p.m. and plan to post the locations where the tickets were sold on their website.

PHOTOS: Mega Millions fever

The officials said they probably won't know about other state's winners until 3 a.m. or beyond. A media release summing up all the data will probably go out Saturday morning.

Lottery fever struck the Southland soon after officials announced that there was no winner in Tuesday’s $363-million drawing. Officials say they have met every night since Tuesday and watched the number grow from $540 million Thursday to the astronomical figured released Friday.

"This is history, and we’re enjoying it," California Lottery spokeswoman Donna Cordova said Friday. "This is just a shared moment for the entire country. We’re rolling into uncharted territory here."

Long lines were forming at stores across Southern California on Friday evening.

The jackpot, said to be the largest on record in the United States, brought a flood of last-minute buyers to stores.

According to KTLA News, people waited for up to five hours to get tickets from Bluebird Liquor in Hawthorne. The store, which has been the source of several winning tickets over the years, sold 10,000 tickets in the first hour and a half after it opened Friday.

The enormous prize brings a one-time cash option of an estimated $462 million before taxes. Or a winner could choose annual payments of about $24 million before taxes for 26 years.

Abbas Moussawi stood behind a counter of glass hookahs at G and R Smoke in Manhattan Beach, pondering what he would do if one of the 20 lottery tickets he plans on buying hit the jackpot.

“I’m going to buy a house in Bel-Air,” the Lebanese immigrant said. “But 80% of it is going to the poor all over the world. I’m not greedy, man. I’d be more than happy with 20%."


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-- Matt Stevens and Shelby Grad


Photo: Lottery officials estimate there is a 95% chance someone will win the $640-million jackpot Friday. Credit: Paul Sakuma / Associated Press