DES MOINES – Iowa and 44 other participating lottery jurisdictions were big winners in the run up to Tuesday’s $648 million Mega Millions jackpot drawing, reaping about $300 million in total proceeds from overall sales topping $1 billion during a span of nearly 11 weeks.
Iowa’s take was almost $8.6 million in the jackpot run that began Oct. 2 and ended Tuesday night when two tickets sold in California and Georgia defied odds of about 1 in 159 million to win a share of prize money that each could be parsed out as a $324 million annuity over time or nearly $174 million each in cash.
The winning numbers in Tuesday’s drawing for the second-largest lottery jackpot in U.S. history were: 8-14-17-20-39 and Mega Ball 7. The Megaplier was 4. The record remains a $656 million jackpot drawing in 2012.
The jackpot-winning tickets were purchased at a newsstand in Atlanta, Ga., and a gift shop in San Jose, Calif. Mega Millions game tickets are available for purchase in 43 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
In Iowa, nearly 175,000 plays were sold in Tuesday’s Mega Millions drawing with two tickets purchased in Burlington and Ankeny coming within one number of having a share of the jackpot. Those winners each claimed prizes of $5,000.
Iowa lottery players bought nearly $2.9 million in Mega Millions tickets for Tuesday’s drawing, including nearly $1.9 million in tickets sold on the day of the drawing alone. During Tuesday’s busiest stretch from about 5-6 p.m., Mega Millions tickets were selling at an average of about $4,450 per minute in Iowa, said Iowa Lottery spokeswoman Mary Neubauer.
“This is like our election day,” said Neubauer, a former news wire service reporter and veteran of election-night frenzies. “You have the craze of everybody voting by buying tickets yesterday and then the election was last night and you had to wait until the middle of the night to get the results.”
With Tuesday’s result, the jackpot resets to $15 million for the next drawing, which is on Friday night.
Neubauer said the latest jackpot sales frenzy should boost Iowa lottery sales, that were trailing last fiscal year’s numbers that were spurred by Powerball jackpots. She said the run-up to Tuesday’s drawing had a different feel with interest stoked by social media and instantaneous communications.
“It is a lot busier for us and I also think the buzz has gotten bigger because people are interacting with each other in so many different ways than they did a few years ago,” she said. “It seems like the chatter has reached a higher pitch than it did a few years ago just because social media has taken over so much of our lives and people are out there talking about it.”
Of the $8,582,595 worth of Mega Millions tickets sold in Iowa after the Oct. 1 drawing through Tuesday, Neubauer said about 35 percent of the proceeds, or a little more than $3 million, would be returned as proceeds to state causes. She noted that some of those sales would have occurred even without the big jackpot run.