Iowa is not immune from the lottery fever that’s hit the country over the record Mega Millions jackpot. Iowa Lottery spokesperson, Mary Neubauer, says there’ve been enough tickets sold here so far to account for almost everyone in the state that’s legally eligible to buy one.
“We are approaching two-million dollars worth of Mega Million tickets sold just here in Iowa for tonight’s drawing, and by the time of the drawing happens, I would anticipate that we would have topped that $2-million mark,”Neubauer says. The jackpot was raised today to $640-million, and if you had a single winning ticket, you could take home $462-million in the cash payment option.
Neubauer says the deadline to get in on the jackpot is 8:59 Iowa time. “There won’t be an official cutoff where the computer would go down or anything — but what would happen is just if you buy at ticket after 8:59 p.m., your ticket would not be for tonight’s drawing, it would be for next Tuesday’s drawing,” Neubauer explains.
She says the Iowa Lottery always warns people to only spend what they can afford on the tickets and not get carried away by the large jackpot. So far, she says it appears people are following that advice.
“On average purchases are still in just the four to five dollar range, so that’s good, that means a whole bunch of people have gotten in and are buying a ticket or two, and you aren’t seeing people out buying huge numbers of tickets,” she says. Neubauer says they have seen some people coming in an buying bunches of 100 tickets or more, but she says that always happens as people go in with coworkers or neighbors in a pool to buy tickets.
High-speed computers have made the process of nailing down if there is a winning ticket or tickets much faster, but Neubauer says the volume of tickets being sold could slow the process.”We would hope that we would know by sometime very late tonight about Iowa winners, and then we hope to be able to make the announcement in the morning on Saturday. It’ll just depend on how long it takes to process everything,” according to Neubauer.
“With sales numbers like this, even with very fast computers it just takes awhile to get through everything. And we’re totally in uncharted territory here. You know we here at the Lottery have never seen anything like this, and neither have any of our players.”
Lottery officials project that about 90% of all the possible combinations will be covered in Friday’s drawing, so it’s likely there will be one or more winners.