The Mega Millions jackpot for the Dec. 17 drawing jumped once again Tuesday morning, increasing to $636 million from $586 million, with a cash value of $341.2 million. The Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL) that operates the game on behalf of 45 participating lotteries, including the Louisiana Lottery, made the announcement Tuesday based on a nationwide surge in sales.

The jackpot is now the second-largest in the world, behind the $656 million Mega Millions jackpot won in March 2012. The Mega Millions jackpot was last hit on Oct. 1 and Tuesday's drawing is the 22nd in the current run. Louisiana Lottery Mega Millions sales for the entire draw run total more than $10.7 million and are expected to climb ahead of tonight's drawing.

Jackpot prizes are available for payment after the 15th calendar day following the drawing, and winners have 60 days from the date of claim to decide on a payment option. The advertised Mega Millions jackpot represents an estimate of the annuity amount, which is paid in 30 graduated annual installments that increase each year by a percentage set out in the Mega Millions game directive. The first installment is paid at the time the prize is claimed. For the $636 million jackpot, the first payment would be more than $9.5 million, equivalent to a full-time job that pays $4,602 per hour. Winners also have the option to take a one-time lump sum cash payment equal to the amount of money that would have been invested to provide the 30-installment annuity option.

In Louisiana, Mega Millions tickets must be purchased by 9 p.m. the night of the drawing. Mega Millions drawings are broadcast live at 10 p.m. from Atlanta, Ga., on Official Lottery Draw Show TV stations, a list of which can be found by clicking the link below.

Players are encouraged to play responsibly and to sign the back of their tickets immediately after purchase.