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Washington (AFP) – Who needs Santa Claus when you hold one of two winning tickets announced in the $636 million Mega Millions lottery in the United States?

The life-changing stubs for the second richest pot in American lottery history were sold in San Jose, California at a gift shop and at a newsstand in Atlanta, Georgia, CBS news reported, quoting lottery officials after the Tuesday night draw.

The jackpot will be split. The names of the winners were not immediately announced.

Winners in this sweepstake can opt between a one time lump sum payment or one smaller payment followed by others over the course of 29 years.

Had there been a single winner in Tuesday’s draw the one time cash option was estimated at $341 million — before taxes.

The jackpot reached its dizzying sum after frantic Americans in 43 participating states, Washington D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands spent days snapping up $1 tickets.

Tuesday’s combination of six winning numbers was: 8, 14, 17, 20, 39 and 7, the latter being known as the Mega Ball.

The record jackpot was $656 million in March 2012. It was split among ticket holders in Illinois, Kansas and Maryland.

But this draw was the first since a rule change in October designed to make it harder to win and thus fatten the jackpot.

Previously, players picked five numbers from one to 56 plus a number from one to 46.

Under the new rules, players pick five numbers from one to 75 plus a number from one to 15 — shifting the odds of winning from one in 176 million to one in 259 million.

By comparison, the odds of being struck by lightning in the United States in one’s lifetime is one in 10,000, according to the National Weather Service.

AFP Photo/Scott Olson

Photo by archer10 (Dennis) / CC BY-SA 2.0

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For months, one postal worker had been doing all she could to protect herself from COVID-19. She wore a mask long before it was required at her plant in St. Paul, Minnesota. She avoided the lunch room, where she saw little social distancing, and ate in her car.

The stakes felt especially high. Her husband, a postal worker in the same facility, was at high risk because his immune system is compromised by a condition unrelated to the coronavirus. And the 20-year veteran of the U.S. Postal Service knew that her job, operating a machine that sorts mail by ZIP code, would be vital to processing the flood of mail-in ballots expected this fall.

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