At $640 million, Mega Millions a mega draw

People in Snohomish County are buying lottery tickets in droves with a larger-than-ever payout of more than a half-billion dollars — that’s billion with a B.

Yes, lottery fever has hit the county.

The jackpot reached $640 million for Mega Millions, the lottery that is played by millions of people in 42 states dreaming of riches. The next drawing is scheduled for 8 p.m. tonight.

Pete and Mitzi Tanis, who live in Monroe, buy tickets every week at the Albertsons by U.S. 2. On Wednesday, they bought nearly double what they usually do.

“It gives us a little more chance, but it’s not much,” Mitzi Tanis said.

Pete Tanis said they would pay off their bills if they won this mega jackpot. The closest he came to the big prize was two years ago. And that’s when he won $20.

Even if he isn’t the big winner, he said that he hopes the prize winner at least comes from this area.

“You never heard of a big lottery winner in Snohomish County,” he said.

At the Top Food &Drug in Snohomish, people lined up to buy lottery tickets after finishing their grocery shopping.

Jeff Pettit, who lives in town, said he doesn’t play the Mega Millions lottery regularly, but it was hard to resist this time.

“The prize money definitely makes a difference,” he said.

It didn’t make a difference for Diane Taylor.

On an impulse, she picked up a couple of Mega Million tickets. But she didn’t even know the prize had reached these historic heights.

“I had $4 in spare change in my pocket,” she said. “So I thought, why not?”

The prize is the biggest in U.S. history with the pot increasing 18 times since late January. That means a big winner hasn’t cashed in since then. A winner could get $19.2 million a year for 26 years or a single payment worth $359 million.

While no one won the big jackpot in Tuesday night’s Mega Millions drawing, several people picked five of the six numbers to win $250,000, and three of those winners are in Washington state.

The Washington Lottery says two of the quarter-million dollar tickets were sold in Spokane and one in Ferndale. In addition, a $10,000 prize was claimed Wednesday by a Naval Base Kitsap worker who played with a group of 28 friends.

The Associated Press contributed to this report, which has been edited since it was first posted to update the increased jackpot.

Alejandro Dominguez: 425-339-3422; adominguez@heraldnet.com.

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