The Mega Millions jackpot tonight’s drawing is an estimated $355-million, and that has tickets selling in Iowa at a record pace. Iowa Lottery C.E.O., Terry Rich, says that’s the result they hoped for in partnering with the Meg Millions drawing. Rich says Mega Millions is much like the Powerball drawing.

He says Mega Millions was sold in larger states and Powerball had been sold in Iowa and other smaller states, so the decision one year ago to begin cross-selling them made sense. He says the state of Iowa makes the same amount from selling Mega Millions as it does from the Powerball tickets. Rich says the other benefit of selling a game like Mega Millions is that big jackpots tend to help the sale of other lottery games.

He says when people go in to buy a Mega Millions ticket, they will often also buy a Powerball ticket, or buy a scratch ticket. Iowa sold $914-million in Mega Millions tickets last week, beating the old record sales week of $518-million set in April. Rich says many people who haven’t played before buy a ticket when the jackpots are higher, but he says that doesn’t give them any better chance of winning.

Rich says the odds of winning are the same whether the jackpot is $12-million or $355-million, but he says it is more fun to play with a larger jackpot. But he says they always tell people to “play with your head, not above your head.” Rich says lottery sales have stayed strong in the economic downturn.

Rich says sales are above what they projected and he believes that’s because it’s low-cost local entertainment and people are staying closer to home and spending less on entertainment. The Mega Millions jackpot was last won by someone in Ohio on November 9th and has been growing since then. The drawing is tonight at 10 p.m. Iowa time.

Find out more on the Iowa Lottery’s website at: