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Sun, Nov. 17

Arizonans pounce on chance to win a ton of cash in Mega Millions lottery drawing

Gabe Hernandez/The Associated Press<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->A Mega Million lottery hopeful fills out her ticket. The jackpot is estimated at $540 million.<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 --><br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->

Gabe Hernandez/The Associated Press<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->A Mega Million lottery hopeful fills out her ticket. The jackpot is estimated at $540 million.<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 --><br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->

Mega Millions jackpot tickets are flying out the door at the Shell station in Prescott Valley.

Jean Turner, manager of the store at the intersection of Highway 69 and Robert Road, said they sold more than 1,100 tickets since Wednesday.

"I just have been amazed at the sales," she said. "It's the most I've ever seen."

Turner said they sold 485 tickets from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Wednesday to people looking to catch lightning in a bottle and land the record $540 million jackpot.

From 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, Turner said they sold 634 tickets to folks like Phoenix resident Jimmy Lopez.

Lopez, who works for a document shredding company, said he drives into town every Thursday.

Stopping in the gas station Thursday afternoon, Lopez spent five bucks on a Mega ticket before he began his drive down to the Valley.

"I might stop at more stores along the way," he said.

It's that attitude that's sparking sales and elevating the jackpot to a historic level.

CNN.com on Thursday reported that the Friday jackpot estimate was $476 million, before ticket sales countrywide pushed the jackpot to the $540 million mark ahead of the Friday night drawing.

Representatives from Mega Millions said the previous world record for a single jackpot was that game's $390 million prize in March 2007, which winners in Georgia and New Jersey split, according to the CNN.com story.

Ahwatukee resident and aspiring millionaire Rick Winfrey stopped at the station and bought a ticket.

If he wins, Winfrey said he'd quit work and see the country in a new RV.

"I'd take it easy, take care of a lot of family and friends, and enjoy early retirement," he said. "And spread some wealth around."

The odds of drawing the winning numbers are 176 million to one.

A Megamillions.com news release states that if one ticket matches all six numbers, the winner would have the choice of receiving the full jackpot in 26 annual payments of $20.7 million or taking the cash option of approximately $389.8 million.

Mega Millions reported that the jackpot has rolled 18 times without a winner since January 24.

Forty-two states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands participate in Mega Millions. Drawings take place 8 p.m. Arizona time Tuesdays and Fridays.

Turner, who bought $15 worth of tickets, said a new home is one of the things she would buy with the jackpot if she got lucky and won.

"I would set all of my kids up for college and I would spend my days donating money to lots of charities," she said.

Marianne Holland, who works with Turner, spent $5 on a ticket, and she plans to build a home and give some financial security to her three children and two grandchildren if she wins.

"All it takes is one - the right one," she said.

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