Sales are brisk across the Northwest for today’s MegaMillions drawing. The $540 million lottery jackpot is being called the largest in world history. The high-profile jackpot also means state lotteries of Idaho, Oregon, and Washington are anticipating a payday of their own.
50-cents of every $1 MegaMillions ticket goes to the lottery agency in each of the 42 states that participate. Lottery officials in the Northwest are using words like "extraordinary" and "exciting" to describe the amount of tickets being sold in the run-up to Friday night's drawing. After expenses, lottery proceeds in Oregon, Washington and Idaho go toward things like state parks and education.
People were lining up to buy tickets at a Safeway in Salem. Mark Hansen says he hopes one of his two tickets is the winner.
"I figure I'd split it among my family, which would be about eight ways, and then after that pay off my bills, buy a nice little farm property for me and my wife and child," he says.
The odds of winning the jackpot are astronomical. One in 176 million. There's never been a MegaMillions jackpot winner in Oregon. Washington and Idaho have three between them.
Idaho lottery officials report brisk sales for this jackpot. But they note that ticket sales tend to fall dramatically in the weeks after a large jackpot is awarded. In 2011 Idaho lottery sales came in at $147 million. The state got $37 million of that. 17 million of that went to upkeep for state buildings. Another 17 million went to public schools and 3 million went to the state’s department of education.