Mega Millions mania spurs would-be winners to cross state lines for tickets

The Mega Millions jackpot has grown to $1.6 billion, and the winning ticket could be the largest prize in U.S. history. So people across the country are lining up to bet big.

At a convenience store near the Georgia-Alabama border Tuesday morning, the Mega Millions line was 50 people deep. An hour later, it was out the door. Most drove from Alabama where there is no Mega Millions. 

Jesse Pritchett bought 100 tickets.

"My chance is as good as anybody else's. I mean, somebody's got to win," he said.

Forty-four states have Mega Millions mania. Overflow crowds were seen in Primm, Utah, and at Blue Bird Liquor in Los Angeles. California is selling 540 tickets a second. A St. Louis grocery store gave away 1,600 free tickets. Customers had five seconds to grab them as they swirled inside a windy machine.

Mega Millions has more than 302 million possible number combinations. Lottery officials expect to sell 75 percent of them by Tuesday night's drawing, when Mega Millions host John Crow will announce the six winning numbers.

"A million dollars is life changing. But a billion dollars is extraordinary. So that excitement, that enthusiasm that is generating right now is what's great about this jackpot," Crow said.

In one magic moment, someone could get filthy rich. Quick.

  • Mark Strassmann

    Mark Strassmann has been a CBS News correspondent since January 2001 and is based in the Atlanta bureau.