File-This Dec. 12, 2013 file photo shows a sign displaying the current Mega Millions jackpot at a Financial District liquor store in San Francisco. Lottery officials say the next Mega Millions prize could surpass last years record $656 million jackpot. No one won the $425 million prize on Friday night. And officials Saturday Decx. 14, 2013, raised the amount to $550 million for Tuesdays drawing, the fourth-largest in U.S. history. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)
DES MOINES, Iowa — Strong weekend Mega Millions ticket sales easily could push Tuesday’s jackpot above last year’s record $656 million prize, a lottery official said Sunday.
No ticket matched the six number needed to win Friday’s $425 million prize. It was raised Saturday to $550 million for Tuesday’s drawing — the fourth largest in U.S. history.
Paula Otto, executive director of the Virginia Lottery and Mega Millions’ lead director, told the Associated Press that sales were up by as much as 20 percent in states that reported their weekend numbers. Sales were expected to spike on Tuesday, the day of the drawing.
“I think we’ll be very close to the record, and maybe even surpass it,” Otto said. “The challenging part in predicting is that so many of the sales happening on the day of the drawing.
“But lotto players are procrastinators. They tend to buy on the day of the draw.”
As of Friday, players had bought enough tickets to cover roughly half of the 259 million possible number combinations, Otto said.