PHOENIX — Thousands of people lined up in 41 states and in Washington, D.C., ahead of the Mega Millions drawing on Tuesday in hopes of buying the winning ticket for the lottery game's $355 million jackpot.
The prize is second-largest in Mega Millions history, said Arizona Lottery spokeswoman Cindy Esquer. The lottery's prize of $390 million in March 2007 was the richest in U.S. history.
"We got a pretty good, steady flow of traffic as far as buying the tickets goes," said Bill Evans, owner of Beaver Dam Service Station in northwest Arizona. "As the day progresses we'll have a line out the door, I'm sure."
Hundreds of people poured into the tiny Arizona towns of Littlefield and Beaver Dam, near the Nevada and Utah borders, on Tuesday to buy tickets.
At Rosie's Cafe on U.S. 93 north of Kingman near the Nevada line, hundreds drove in over the weekend to buy tickets for the Mega Millions game, and a repeat was likely Tuesday because of the new Hoover Dam bypass.
"It's zip in, zip out. Everybody's happy and content with that," said Christine Millim, a waitress and cashier.
"The line was going out the door," Millim said. "With 500 or more" in line at times Saturday and Sunday.
The Mega Millions game is similar to Powerball — players try to win by matching five regular numbers plus the "Mega ball." Tickets cost $1.
Larry White, who bought a ticket in Atlanta, said he would use the money to help his family if he claimed the multimillion dollar prize.
"I'm going to take care of my family — buy them new houses, new cars and travel a little bit," he said.
Others said they would use the money to start foundations, retire or take vacations.
Sheila Twine, in Atlanta, said she would pay off her and her daughter's bills and help people in need.
"With all this money, I could help a lot of people," she said.
The jackpot's cash option works out to about $224 million.
Besides the jackpot, prizes range from $2 to $250,000. Drawings are held every Tuesday and Friday night.
The game expanded last year under a cross-selling agreement with Powerball to become available in 41 states and Washington, D.C.