TODAY   |  December 16, 2013

Mega Millions jackpot keeps growing

The Mega Millions jackpot is now over $500 million after no winner came forward in the last drawing, and is on track to keep growing as more ticket buyers try their luck. NBC’s Kerry Sanders reports.

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>> millions jackpot just keeps growing and growing. the prize for tomorrow's drawing now stands at, get this, $550 million and the way ticket sales are going, it is on track to become the largest in u.s. history . let's check in with kerry sanders feeling lucky in plantation, florida this morning. good morning to you.

>> reporter: good morning. as this grows to a half billion dollars, some people are saying i don't normally play the lottery but i'm going to play it this time. if you do decide to play the mega millions , your chances of winning are worse than ever.

>> you could find yourself $550 million richer.

>> why not a couple of extra dollars. look at all the money you could win.

>> reporter: it's possible but did you ever stop to wonder why nobody won the mega jackpot in 21 drawings? it's because in october after a maryland family won $189 million the game got harder. you used to have to pick six numbers from 1 to 56. now it's from 1 to 75. and we all know what that means.

>> you just take 75 to the 5th and divide by 5 factorial. so it's much bigger, much bigger than 56th to the 5th divided by 5 factorial.

>> reporter: right. how much bigger? the odds of winning went from 1 in 176 million to 1 in 259 million. you have a better chance of hitting two consecutive holes in one. of being cannonized or of being attacked by a shark.

>> let's see if we can make you a millionaire tonight.

>> reporter: of course people do win even though no one took home the mega jackpot last friday, nine people won the $1 million prize. so you're probably asking yourself if there's anyway to improve your odds and it turns out there is.

>> buy more tickets. you have a tiny chance. so if you buy two tickets, you have twice that tiny chance.

>> reporter: so one of the lottery officials said at this rate people buying tickets is likely to go well above the $550 million. maybe up to 6$656 million.

>> well, debbie downer reporting. thank