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By Gene Petriello – bio | email

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) – Here's a way to ring in the new year — take a shot at tonight's Mega Millions jackpot!

It's now up to $242 million, thanks to brisk sales, according to the Virginia Lottery. Mega Millions is played in 41 states and the District of Columbia.

The drawing is tonight — one hour before the new year. So get your tickets ready, and get ready to see all your "old friends" if you win!

Nearly three million tickets will be sold in Virginia alone today, all of us testing our luck on this new Year's Eve.

One by one the Mega Millions tickets were flying out, as the countdown to the big drawing nears. just hours before the winning numbers are out — first time and lottery regulars are out in full force.

"I've got two lottery tickets here. I'm going to hit," says Shona Goodwin, a first time buyer.

"I ain't anticipating anything because I ain't won nothing yet!," says lottery regular Glenn Bunce.

"It's a new Years. What a way to bring it in," says Shona.

She should be excited. the state seems to be lucky this year, with dozens of people cashing in this year. "And if I don't win, I'm going to keep playing until I do," adds Shona.

Because of high sales,with big stakes, the estimated jackpot for tonight's drawing grew from $237 million to $242 million on Thursday.

Here in Virginia, the state is expecting about 5,600 tickets to be sold per minute during the lunch and evening rush.

But the extra competition doesn't have Glenn worried. "That's my middle name, 'competition,'" says Glen.

Gene asking Shona: "You owe $6.66. Not exactly the luck you want to start out with, huh?"

Shona: "No! I had to throw a piece of candle in to get that number outta there."

But she, along with millions of others across the country, are hoping it's their numbers that pop up tonight.

We'll have the winning numbers right here on NBC12.

Copyright 2010 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.

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