MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Like a snowball barreling downhill, the Mega Millions Lottery continues to grow. By Wednesday afternoon, it had surpassing the $500 million mark.

Minnesota is one of 44 states where one can buy a ticket or tickets. Lottery Director Ed van Patten told WCCO sales are on the rise, especially here in the Twin Cities.

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“If they take the cash option, it would be reduced by 30 to 32 percent, so we’re looking at close to $400 million dollars in hand if the lottery were today,” said van Patten, who added he is sure sales and the odds will rise steadily before Friday.

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The odds of winning the massive jackpot are 1 in 176 million, and van Patten says office pools of between 15 and 20 people are quite popular, given those odds and the amount of cash at stake.

“The most active sales are here in the Twin Cities, and very popular are the office pools of between 10 and 30 workers. There is the belief that that lowers the odds, by allowing more tickets to be sold to one group,” he says.

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The drawing is Friday at 10 p.m.