"Illinoisans who want to get in on the game but are trying to stay warm in this frigid and snowy weather can purchase their ticket or on their mobile phone via their mobile carriers' Internet (3G, 4G and LTE) connection at www.myillinoislottery.com," a news release from the Illinois Lottery read.
The mobile-play convenience is currently available to AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless customers. Lottery players who do not use these carriers can still play via mobile devices by using a Wi-Fi connection. Players can also purchase their tickets at more than 8,200 retailers across the state."
This past October the Mega Millions jackpot was upgraded to include larger, faster-growing jackpots; second-place prizes of at least $1 million; and better odds of winning smaller cash prizes. The massive $586 million jackpot, with a $316 million cash option, can be attributed to the game's revamp.
The $586 million is a jump from the earlier projection but still trailing a $656 million prize last year that was the largest in U.S. history.
Paula Otto, executive director of the Virginia Lottery and Mega Millions' lead director says ticket sales are ahead of projections, one of the primary factors pushing the jackpot higher.
She says the jackpot may be increased one more time on Tuesday morning in advance of the evening drawing. She says it's expected that between 65 and 75 percent of the 259 million possible number combinations will be in play when the numbers are drawn.
Strong weekend Mega Millions ticket sales easily could push Tuesday's jackpot above last year's record $656 million prize, a lottery official said.
"I think we'll be very close to the record, and maybe even surpass it," Otto said, adding that sales are difficult to predict. "Lotto players are procrastinators. They tend to buy on the day of the draw."
As of Friday, players had bought enough tickets to cover roughly half of the 259 million possible number combinations, Otto said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.