Mega Millions jackpot, now at $636 million, fuels dreams

Imagine what a buck could do!

Millions considered the Lottery’s motto Tuesday as they waited for the Mega Millions drawing with a jackpot of about $636 million.

Many lined up outside stores to buy what they hoped would be the winning ticket.

California Lottery officials say the prize could grow even more because of last-minute ticket buyers who hope to beat 7:45 p.m. deadline.


And all day, millions have been pondering what they would do if they won. Among them is Michael Phan.

“I’m going to pay off my debt and all my parents’ debt,” he said.

The 33-year-old resident of La Mirada said he also plans to start a college fund for his 10-month-old daughter, Mikayla. He also wants to travel.

Still, whether a winner is selected or not, many will probably suffer a lottery hangover.

“It’s back to work,” Phan said.

Tuesday night’s jackpot began that morning at $586 million and has since soared to an estimated $636 million, which has a lump-sum cash payout of $341.2 million. The jump makes the jackpot the second-largest Mega Millions ever.

The largest lottery record stands at $656 million, which was split by winners from three states in 2012.

Lottery officials estimate that 70% of the 259 million possible number combinations have been sold so far, leaving about a 30% chance that an overall winner may not emerge.

If nobody wins Tuesday night, it is plausible the public could be looking at a “once-unthinkable” $1-billion jackpot, lottery officials said in a news release.

The deadline to buy a ticket for Tuesday’s 8 p.m. drawing is 7:45 p.m.

The Mega Millions game is played in 43 states, as well as the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Chances of winning are 1 in 259 million.


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Times staff writers Ari bloomekatz and Matt Stevens contributed to this report.