As the Mega Millions jackpot inched toward a U.S. lottery record Tuesday, lotto tickets were flying off the shelves in San Diego – and all over California.
According to California Lottery officials, Mega Millions tickets for the $636 million grand prize were selling at a rate of nearly 23,000 per minute Tuesday afternoon as the Golden State got in on the frenzy.
During the 4 p.m. hour alone, lottery officials say Californians hoping to strike it rich bought $3,487,264 worth of tickets. That comes out to 22,798 transactions per minute.
The deadline to purchase a Mega Millions ticket is 7:45 p.m., as the drawing is set for 8 p.m. sharp. As of 5:10 p.m., lottery officials said players had purchased more than $18 million in tickets.
If no one wins the jackpot Tuesday, the pot increases to at least $950 million for Friday night’s drawing. Lottery officials say the Mega Millions jackpot could even possibly surpass the $1 billion mark by Christmas Eve to establish a world record, if no one wins before then.
The jackpot has rolled over 21 times since Oct. 4, which is how it’s grown to be so big.
In San Diego, locals lined up to buy their tickets Tuesday with their eyes on the prize.
Experts say the odds of winning are one in 259 million but, still, those odds haven’t diminished the lotto fever.
“That’s the winning ticket, right here,” said one confident San Diegan after buying a Mega Millions ticket.
One local said they could “think of a few things” they’d buy with the winnings, including an island in the Bahamas.