$1.6 billion on the line in next MegaMillions drawing

CHARLESTON — The largest MegaMillions jackpot of all-time and the second largest lottery jackpot in American history has tickets flying off the printers.

The drawing for the record-breaking $1.6 billion jackpot will take place Tuesday night.

“There’s definitely a lot of excitement,” Randy Burnside, West Virginia Lottery Public Relations and Drawing Manager, said on MetroNews Talkline. “When the jackpot gets really big like this, it gets a lot of the casual people who normally don’t play the lottery, to play the lottery.”

“It’s generating a lot of water cooler talk, a lot of folks are dreaming big. We are seeing a lot of excitement and sales are increasing.”

According to Burnside, last week West Virginia was averaging $2,000 worth of sales for the Mega Millions per minute and well over $1 million in total sales. He noted that the average sales per week for a normal jackpot in the $40-$100 million range, is about $250,000.

With the large jackpot can come large risks with gambling. The Problem Gamblers Help Network of West Virginia is pushing for people to remember to gamble responsibly as the jackpot rises.

“Don’t spend what you can’t afford,” Sheila Moran, the network’s communication director said. “Don’t think this is a good strategy for your retirement. Don’t take money out where you need to be paying your bills and then thinking you’re going to win the lottery. Odds are that’s not going to happen.”

The odds of winning the $1.6 billion jackpot are 1-in-258,890.850, although there are plenty of other chances to win other prizes during the drawing that could entice gamblers to buy more tickets.

According to the West Virginia Lottery, there were more than 19,000 winners in West Virginia in the previous Mega Millions drawing. There are prizes all through the prize structure for players.

“Be careful, be cognizant of what you are spending,” Moran said. “Ask can you afford to spend this, are you doing this just for fun, is this something you feel like you have to do or you’re not going to make it if you don’t win the lottery? You can’t think like that.”

For more information on gambling addiction, the “Rules of Responsible Gambling”, and free help visit the Problem Gamblers Help Network of West Virginia website, here.

“We just want to remind folks to please play responsibly,” Burnside said. “It only takes one ticket to win. Your odds do not increase dramatically if you buy a bunch of tickets.”

By Jake Flatley

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