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Jackpot Buzz: Mega Millions® Jackpot Hits Est. $290 Million As Lottery Waits To Hear From Iowa's Hot Lotto® Jackpot Winner

Could Iowa have two big Lottery winners in one week?

DES MOINES, Iowa - Lottery jackpots are generating a lot of chatter in Iowa right now - one for the big prize someone already has won in the state and the other for the big winnings that are still up for grabs.

The Mega Millions jackpot has climbed to an estimated $290 million for Tuesday's drawing as the Iowa Lottery waits to hear from the winner or winners who purchased the ticket winning last Wednesday's $16.5 million Hot Lotto jackpot.

The Mega Millions jackpot has been growing for nearly two months. It was last won Nov. 9 in Ohio. The estimated $290 million jackpot that will be on the line in Tuesday's drawing is the sixth largest in the history of the game and the biggest that's been offered in our state since Mega Millions tickets began to be sold in Iowa one year ago.

"The Hot Lotto win made for a great end to 2010 for someone or a group of someone," Iowa Lottery CEO Terry Rich said. "And the Mega Millions jackpot is giving us all something fun to dream about as we start the New Year." Rich also emphasized that as jackpots reach these levels, players should play responsibly.

Powerball and Mega Millions are both lotto games with jackpots that have climbed into the hundreds of millions of dollars. But until January 2010, the games were sold by separate groups of lotteries. An agreement among U.S. lottery directors allowed cross-selling of the games after several studies and feedback from lottery players across the United States.

Mega Millions holds the record for the largest jackpot in North America. That $390 million prize was split in March 2007 by two tickets purchased in Georgia and New Jersey. Today, Mega Millions tickets are sold in Iowa, 40 other states and the District of Columbia. Players in the game choose five numbers from a pool of 56 and another number - called the Mega Ball - from a separate pool of 46. Players win the jackpot by matching all six numbers selected in a drawing and can win seven other levels of prizes as well. The Mega Millions jackpot starts at $12 million and grows until someone wins it. Tickets in the game cost $1. Mega Millions drawings are held at 10 p.m. on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Meantime, the wait continues for the winner or winners of the $16.5 million jackpot-winning Hot Lotto ticket that was purchased at a Des Moines convenience store. Jackpot prizes won in Iowa must be claimed at lottery headquarters in Des Moines, so the earliest that the Hot Lotto ticket can be turned in is Monday, as lottery offices are closed on the weekend.

The lucky Hot Lotto ticket was purchased at Quik Trip, 4801 N.E. 14th St. in Des Moines and matched all six numbers selected in Wednesday's drawing. The winning numbers that night were: 3-12-16-26-33 and Hot Ball 11.

Rich encouraged the jackpot winner(s) to get financial or legal advice before claiming the prize and to keep the winning ticket in a secure place until presenting it to the lottery claim the jackpot.

If the winner or winners have questions before claiming the prize, they are welcome to contact the lottery at (515) 725-7900. Winning tickets in the Hot Lotto game expire one year after the date of the drawing.

Iowa Lottery players now have won seven jackpots in Hot Lotto.

Hot Lotto began in April 2002, offering Powerball-style play but with easier odds. Hot Lotto players choose five numbers from a pool of 39 and another number, called the Hot Ball, from a pool of 19. The Hot Lotto jackpot starts at $1 million and grows until someone wins it. Tickets in the game cost $1. Hot Lotto drawings are held at about 9:40 p.m. on Wednesdays and Saturdays, just before the Powerball drawings.

Hot Lotto tickets are sold in Iowa, 13 other states and the District of Columbia.