TODAY   |  March 18, 2014

Mega Millions jackpot reaches $400 million

Tuesday’s Mega Millions lottery jackpot soars to $400 million, its third largest ever. Dreamers are lining up for a shot at the massive payday.  NBC’s Kerry Sanders reports.

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>> all right, al, thanks. anybody feeling lucky?

>> you've only been married a day. wow.

>> the lottery.

>> yeah. he went there!

>> we won't think it.

>> estimated $400 million up for grabs in the lottery, the megamillions jackpot, that's the third highest in lottery's history. kerry sanders scooping up tickets in the nation's capital. good morning to you.

>> good morning. well, megamillions, like all the state-run lotteries is a numbers game . so this morning, here are the numbers behind the numbers.

>> megamillions tickets are now selling $137 million a minute. chances of winning the big money , 1 in 258 million. a woman is more likely to give birth to two sets of triplets.

>> quit my job, buy me a house.

>> i would help people.

>> and help yourself ?

>> of course. for the grand kids. things like that.

>> reporter: if it seems these days the larger jackpots are more frequent, it's because they are. three of the top four megamillion payouts have come in just the last three years. one reason for that, more players. in 1996 , only six states participated. today, megamillions is played in 43 states, washington, d.c., and the virgin islands . two days gamblers have wagered a staggering $35,206,034,941. and for the winners, payouts exceeded $17 billion. it's also been a boon for state governments . more than $12 billion in profits that pay for state services . now, in some communities, like massachusetts, that money goes to education. in others, it goes to police. there are only a few places where if you win you can keep your identity a secret. that would be maryland, delaware, ohio, north dakota and kansas. but trust me, guys, if i win, you're going to hear about it.