Lotto fever grips U.S. as Mega Millions jackpot hits $1 billion



(Reuters) – Lotto fever was running high on Friday as the U.S. Mega Millions lottery jackpot soared to a record $1 billion, hours before the drawing for what is also the second-largest lottery prize in U.S. history. A sign advertising tickets for the $1-billion Mega Millions lottery drawing is seen in Brooklyn, New York, U.S., October 19, 2018. REUTERS/Shannon StapletonThe winner can opt for an immediate cash payment of $565.6 million or receive the $1 billion prize over 29 years. If the $565.6 million were paid in cash, the stack of hundred-dollar bills would reach 2,027 feet (618 meters). That is taller than any skyscraper in the United States including New York City’s 1 World Trade Center, which reaches 1,792 feet (546 meters) at its tip. The televised drawing for the jackpot, which rose steadily from $667 million on Tuesday when no one had the lucky six numbers, is scheduled to take place on Friday at 11 p.m. ET (0300 GMT Saturday). Signs display the jackpots for Mega Millions and Powerball lottery drawings at a newsstands in midtown Manhattan in New York, U.S., October 19, 2018. REUTERS/Mike SugarThe winner of such a prize would be worth more than Vera Bradley Inc and easily have enough money left over to buy a full set of the company’s trademark paisley purses and luggage. And with the winnings they could buy the entire content of a department store and still have enough money left over to be more worth than J.C. Penny Co Inc, valued at $469 million. Their new-found lottery wealth would also put them above Barnes & Noble Inc and Red Robin Gourmet Burgers Inc, both worth under $500 million. Mega Millions tickets are sold in 44 U.S. states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands. Slideshow (11 Images)If more than one winner is picked, the jackpot would be divided proportionately, as happened when the previous Mega Millions record of $656 million was drawn in March 2012 and was shared by winners in Kansas, Illinois and Maryland, a lottery official said. Powerball, which holds the record for the largest U.S. lottery prize of $1.586 billion in 2016, will hold a separate drawing on Saturday. Its jackpot grew on Friday to $470 million from $430 million, with a lump sum value of $268.6 million. The 24 semi-weekly Mega Millions drawings have failed to produce a top winner since July 24, when an 11-member office pool in Santa Clara County, California, hit a $543 million jackpot. The odds of winning the Mega Millions jackpot are one in 302,575,350, but the odds of winning any of the lesser prizes are one in 24. If no one wins Friday, lottery officials estimate the jackpot will grow to $1.6 billion, a new U.S. lottery record, for the Tuesday drawing. Reporting by Gabriella Borter in New York; Additional reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt and Peter Szekely in New York; Writing by Lisa Shumaker; Editing by Jessica Resnick-Ault, David Gregorio and Cynthia OstermanOur Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.



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