U.S. Mega Millions jackpot nears $1 billion hours before drawing


(Reuters) – The U.S. Mega Millions lottery reached nearly $1 billion on Friday, the day of the drawing of what is now the second-largest lottery in U.S. history.

FILE PHOTO: A Mega Millions ticket is pictured in a store in New York City, New York, U.S., January 5, 2018. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/File Photo

New Yorkers queuing up to buy tickets for Friday’s lottery said they would use the prize money to go on a shopping spree, quit their jobs and donate to charity. Still, with winnings from the largest-ever $970 million Mega Millions jackpot, they might have a lot left over.

Excitement over the Mega Millions record has attracted attention from those who do not ordinarily buy tickets.

FILE PHOTO: A man purchases a lottery ticket in New York City, Oct. 17, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

“I get caught up in the frenzy, and you don’t want to get left behind,” said Venice Naidoo, a client operations specialist at a law firm.

The drawing, which rose from $667 million on Tuesday when no one had the lucky six numbers, will take place on Friday at 11 p.m. EDT (0300 GMT Saturday). Powerball will hold a separate drawing on Saturday for an estimated $430 million jackpot.

The immediate cash value of the Mega Millions prize is $548 million. Otherwise $970 million is paid out over 29 years. The largest U.S. lottery prize was a $1.586 billion Powerball jackpot paid out in 2016.

Each of the 24 semi-weekly 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.

Reporting by Gabriella Borter; editing by Jessica Resnick-Ault

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