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Mega Millions Jackpot Has Gamblers Packing Lottery Retailers

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The Mega Millions lottery game is showing right off the bat in 2011 why gambling can be good for the US. The estimated jackpot for the first drawing of the new year tonight is $355 million, and it has gamblers flocking to lottery retailers around the country.

Holiday shoppers spent the last couple of weeks in 2010 buying Mega Millions lottery tickets for their family and friends as gifts in the hopes that the jackpot of over $100 million would be the best gift given. Instead, none of those gifts turned into winners and it left the jackpot growing into the new year.

The estimated $355 million prize is already the fourth largest ever in the US. Mega Millions has only eclipsed that amount once, back in 2007, when the jackpot was hit at $390 million. If the jackpot is not hit this evening, the record for Mega Millions will be broken in the next drawing on Friday.

Lines around the country at convenience stores and gas stations that sell lottery tickets have been long all day. Hundreds of people lined up for their tickets in some areas of the country. Each person had a different idea of what they would do with that type of life-changing money.

The cash option for a prize of this size will be around $224 million. Gamblers will also have the opportunity to win varying prizes at different denominations for matching less than all the numbers that are drawn. The prizes range from $2 up to $250,000 for tickets that do not match all five numbers.

Mega Millions is one of two lotteries that span different states. Powerball holds the other two of the top four largest payouts in lottery history. Tickets will be sold up until ten minutes before the drawing in some states. The drawing is set for 11PM Eastern time tonight.

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