DES MOINES (AP) — Superstition didn’t deter players hoping that Friday the 13th would bring them good luck in the recently revamped Mega Millions game, as heavy sales prompted lottery officials to boost the jackpot from $400 million to $425 million.
Paula Otto, the Virginia Lottery’s executive director and Mega Millions’ lead director, said sales were 40 percent ahead of projections, prompting officials to boost the jackpot before the Friday night drawing.
“Won’t it be fun if we have a huge lottery winner on Friday the 13th?” she said. “I always say there are no unlucky numbers in the lottery. I work on the 13th floor of our building. I like 13.”
The estimated $425 million jackpot is the second-largest Mega Millions jackpot ever, trailing a $656 million jackpot in March 2012, and it is the fifth-largest lottery jackpot in U.S. history. The current jackpot has rolled over 20 times, and a winner from Friday night’s drawing could have a cash option of $228 million before taxes.
Tom Leuangkhamsone doesn’t usually play Mega Millions, but he bought one ticket Friday morning at a convenience store in Atlanta.
“I feel lucky today,” he said. “Friday the 13th, they say it’s a bad day but I don’t know. ... If I win I would probably give most of it away.”
In New York state, tickets were selling at a pace of $500,000 an hour Friday morning. The state’s lottery spokeswoman, Christy Calicchia, said sales are normally between $60,000 and $70,000 an hour.
A major game revamp to Mega Millions in October — aimed at growing bigger jackpots in a shorter amount of time — decreased the odds of a person winning the top prize to about 1 in 259 million. It was previously about 1 in 176 million, nearly the same odds as winning the Powerball jackpot. Still, the cost for a chance at winning millions with Mega Millions is just $1.