WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- Westchester Lottery players stepped up to counters in delis, drug stores, supermarkets and at gas stations Monday to purchase a chance at winning the Mega Million jackpot that is expected to top $600 by Tuesday night's drawing.
The current jackpot is already the second-largest Mega Millions payout ever after the $656 million kitty collected in April 2012.
"What is it, $586 million now? Of course I'm playing," said Gary Frank as he bought his tickets at the 7-Eleven store near Mamaroneck Avenue in White Plains. "I play scratch offs and lottery all the time. I already have a few Mega tickets."
Like Frank, daily lottery players are the first in line for the current prize which was quickly approaching the record $656 million set last year. But newcomers like James Foreman of Tarrytown said he was playing for only the third time.
"I never play Lotto because it seems like it's a waste of money," Foreman said as he waited for his bus. "But I saw that it was like $400 million last week, so I played. I won $1 because I got the Mega ball number 12. I'll spend a few dollars tomorrow."
This multistate lottery game has been around since 1996. Originally called the Big Game with six states participating, it was changed to Mega Millions in 2002. Forty-three states, plus the District of Columbia and Virgin Islands, now participate in the jackpot.
Kharodia (last name), a clerk at Photo Pro on Mamaroneck Avenue in White Plains, said his regular lottery customers were all in buying tickets and that many were talking about the growing jackpot.
"When people see the sign with the high number, they buy a ticket," Kharodia said as he erased the $550 million post on the store's white board and changed it to $586 million. "Even some who never play will buy one chance."
No one has won the Mega's first prize since the number picking format was changed in October. Five numbers are now drawn from a pool of 75 white balls, as opposed to the 56 that were available prior to Oct. 19.
The number of gold Mega Balls, however, decreased to 15 from 46. The tweak pushed the odds of winning the jackpot from about 175 million to 1 to about 259 million to 1.
Drawings are held every Tuesday and Friday at 10:59 p.m. and broadcast locally on WABC-TV Channel 7.