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2 winners in US$636 million Mega Millions drawing from California, Georgia

DES MOINES, Iowa--Two winning tickets were sold — in California and Georgia — for the US$636 million Mega Millions jackpot, which was the second largest prize in U.S. lottery history, lottery officials said Wednesday.

One ticket was sold in San Jose, California, California Lottery spokesman Alex Traverso said. The other was sold in Georgia, but Mega Millions' lead director Paula Otto said early Wednesday morning that she didn't yet know in which city it had been sold.

Otto, who is also the Virginia Lottery's executive director, said US$336 million in tickets were sold for Tuesday's drawing — they had projected US$319 million.

“Sales were a little better than we'd anticipated,” Otto said. “It was a fun run, it was our first holiday run for either of the big jackpot games.”

She said because of the higher sales, the jackpot may be more around US$645 million. The final jackpot will be available by midday Wednesday, she said.

The jackpot started its ascent on Oct. 4. Twenty-two draws came and went without a winner, Otto said. She also said US$1 billion worth of tickets were sold during the run, earning the places that offer the Mega Millions lottery — 43 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands — a total of US$300 million.

The winning numbers in Tuesday night's drawing were: 8, 14, 17, 20, 39; Mega Ball: 7. The jackpot resets to US$15 million for the next drawing, which is on Friday night.

The San Jose ticket was sold at Jennifer's Gift Shop, Traverso said.

“For us, the main thing we'd like to get across is the level of excitement we saw all across California,” he said. “At one point, we were selling about 25,000 tickets per minute. It's been an amazing experience. It's unbelievable.”

The winners can choose to be paid over time or in a cash lump sum, Otto said. Based on the US$636 million figure, the winners would receive US$318 million each over time or US$170 million each in cash.

Mega Millions changed its rules in October to help increase the jackpots by lowering the odds of winning the top prize. That means the chances of winning the jackpot are now about 1 in 259 million. It used to be about 1 in 176 million, nearly the same odds of winning a jackpot in Powerball, the other major multi-state lottery.

But that hasn't stopped aspiring multimillionaires from playing the game.

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Holly Alfred prints out Mega Millions lottery tickets for a customer at Tobacco Plus in Muncie, Indiana, Tuesday, Dec. 17.

(AP)

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