Mega Millions Jackpot Nears Record Just in Time for Christmas

It's over half a billion dollars.

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Updated: 12:05 p.m.

At more than half-a-billion dollars and counting, Tuesday’s Mega Millions jackpot is nearing its all-time high, and a billion-dollar jackpot by Christmas isn’t that far-fetched.

By Tuesday morning, the jackpot had already hit $586 million, the fourth-largest prize ever. And just hours later, lottery officials reported that the pot had grown to $636 million.

Virginia’s lottery director Paula Otto told Reuters that 70 percent of tickets are usually bought the day of the drawing. Officials will gauge sales, estimated to go at a rate of 11 million an hour in 43 states, throughout the day to determine how much the jackpot should increase. The drawing will happen at 11 p.m. Eastern time on Tuesday night.

The current U.S. jackpot record is $656 million, but Otto said that, “If it doesn’t surpass the record we’ll be close. It’s growing a little faster than we thought.”

Someone could have a very merry early Christmas.

This post has been updated to reflect the rising jackpot.