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      Hoping for a miracle against odds with the Mega Millions jackpot

      by Stacy Jacobsonsjacobson@abcnews4.com

      CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- Each ring of the register and each fresh ticket prints out hope and a dream. And everyone thinks they have the winning ticket for the best-ever Christmas present.

      Robert Hellebush said he never thought he'd ever buy a ticket, but this time around the reward sounded too sweet.

      "I'm a financial adviser. I usually advise people not to buy lottery tickets. Not a good way to fund your retirement. But I thought, 'Take a flier,'" Hellebush said.

      But this Mega Millions jackpot has been holding out, rising with each passing day, thanks in part to changes made in October. Until then, players had just 56 numbers to choose from. Now, they can choose from 75. According to CNN, before the change the odds of winning were 1 in 176 million; now, the odds of winning are much larger at 1 in 259 million.

      But, in the world of lottery tickets, odds don't seem to matter.

      "I can't even win a $2 scratch-off, so I'm resorting to a new thing: Mega Millions," Ann Stember said. "I don't know if it's going to work. I hope it does!"

      "First I'm going to take care of my church and then family and friends," Nathaniel Smith said. "I'll give my church 10 percent, then my family and friends houses, cars and money."

      It seems this holiday season, ticket holders see themselves as the star of their own Christmas miracle.

      The drawing will be Tuesday just before 11 p.m. If no one wins, officials said the jackpot could reach $950 million for Friday's drawing.

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