America Racked With Lotto Fever

By Fionna Agomuoh 03/30/12

A nationwide mass gambling craze reaches a climax with the Mega Millions jackpot at a record $640 million.

Thousands wait to buy ticket in California.
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It's a gambling addict's nightmare: America has lotto fever, with the Mega Millions jackpot now set at a record $640 million, and many thousands of people are trying their luck for the first time. Mega Millions raised the jackpot by 19% this morning, drawing ever-larger crowds to local stores to buy hundreds of dollars worth of tickets. Mega Millions spokesperson Carolyn Hapeman says that in New York, tickets are selling at a rate of two million per hour. And people all over the country are waiting in lines for hours in order to buy their tickets. In Los Angeles, the wait is up to two hours, while in Las Vegas—despite plentiful gambling alternatives—people rose at the crack of dawn to get in line before local lotto stores opened at 8 am. Luis Chun, a New Jersey cafe owner, says that while the usual lotto player buys only one or two dollars' worth of tickets, people are typically spending $100 or $200 on this jackpot. Most of these buyers aren't people who usually buy lottery tickets, drawn by the lure of a huge fortune, despite the one in 176 million chance of winning. Forty-two states participate in the Mega Millions Jackpot. The draw takes place at 11 pm EST today.

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Fionna Agomuoh is a tech writer and product reviewer, as well as the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Fionna previously worked at several media companies, including Newsweek Media Group and Business Insider. Find her on Linkedin or follow her on Twitter.