Jaw Dropper Alert: Mega Millions grows to $540M! - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Jaw Dropper Alert: Mega Millions grows to $540M!

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -

What would you do with half a billion? That is the question that so many people are asking themselves especially with the chance that someone could win that much money this Friday night!

Georgia Lottery officials say so far 20 million lottery tickets have been sold for this Mega Millions jackpot. 

The chances of winning were 1 in 175 million, but still, some people in Columbus were hopeful that would hit the jackpot Tuesday night.  No one picked the six correct numbers sending the multi-state jackpot to a record $540 million - the largest jackpot in North American history!

"You never know.  I have as much chance as anyone else," said Manuela Menendez after she bought her tickets.

The $540 million jackpot has been growing since the end of January, but customers at the Maple Mart in Columbus hope their one dollar ticket will have the magic number.

"I see so many different faces everyday and it's not just Tuesday and Friday that they come in.  It's every day of the week," said Latasha Allen, the manager at the Maple Mart.

Allen says there is a constant line for Mega Millions tickets and her favorite thing to always ask is, "What are you going to if you win?"

"I'd pay off a lot of bills and then relax and travel a lot," said John Lawson.

"I would pay my house off and then I would come in and bring some money up here [Maple Mart] and give to St. Jude," said Rhonda Tutherow.

 Allen says the lottery is not just a fun way to interact with customers, but it can help business as well.

"They get to see where Maple Mart is.  They get to know our employees here, and it makes them want to come back once they get a good look at everyone here," said Allen.

If there is a winner, he or she has two choices.  The winner can take cash option of about $389 million at once or get more than $20 million every year for the next 26 years.

People know the odds of winning are slim, but for some, it is a way to help education in Georgia since that is exactly where lottery proceeds go.

"I have two kids in school.  My wife works for the school system as well.  So, maybe we are benefiting from some of the money getting cycled back into that," said Lawson.

For others, it is the thrill and the chance that makes the game fun.

"One in a million chance to see if you are going to win," said Tutherow. 

Tuesday night's winning numbers were: 9, 19, 34, 44 and 51. The Mega Ball was 24.

Eight players won $10,000 each in Tuesday's Drawing. The winning tickets were purchased in Atlanta, Blue Ridge, Canton, Douglasville, Flowery Branch, Griffin, Lithonia and Loganville.

This jackpot has rolled 18 times since the January 24th drawing.

Lottery officials say more than $13 billion or 40% of ticket sales has been returned to Georgia's education. Georgia lottery profits fund the state's HOPE scholarship and Pre-K programs. More than 1.4 million college students have received HOPE and more than a million 4-year-olds have attended state funded Pre-K programs. 

What would you do if you won the lottery? Post your answer on our Facebook wall or tweet using the hastags #wtvm #megamillions

WTVM-TV offers lottery text alerts. Just text wtvmlottery to 40909. Message and data rates may apply. To manage your preferences go to http://wtvm.com/alerts/.  

Copyright 2012 WTVM. All rights reserved.

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