U.S. Mega Millions jackpot nears $1 billion, second largest on record

(Reuters) – The U.S. Mega Millions jackpot climbed to nearly $1 billion for Friday’s drawing, the largest ever for the contest, and the second biggest U.S. lottery on record, trailing a $1.586 billion Powerball jackpot paid out in 2016.

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.

FILE PHOTO: A man photographs signs that display the jackpots for Friday’s Mega Millions and Wednesday’s Powerball lottery drawings at the New York State Lottery office in New York City, U.S., October 17, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

The potential winnings are so large New Yorkers lining up to buy tickets had plans for spending only a small fraction of the fortune.

A few dreamed of visiting Hawaii, funding their retirement or buying a vacation home. The immediate cash value of the Mega Millions prize is $548 million. Otherwise $970 million is paid out over 29 years.

Among the throngs dreaming of what to do with potential winnings was Erica Young, who works in the Manhattan hotel industry, and who decided to buy a ticket a day ahead of the drawing.

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

Young said she had played the lottery before, but “only when it’s huge,” she said.

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, but Young said she already had plans for some things she would do if she struck gold.

“I’d take the females in my family down 47th street and go buy jewelry,” she said. “I’d take about $50 million, and I’d give that to friends, family and charities. The rest I’d put in the bank and live off the interest. You know, the usual stuff.”

Reporting by Gabriella Borter; editing by Jessica Resnick-Ault and Tom Brown

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