Mega Millions jackpot nears US$1 billion, second-largest US lottery prize ever

The draw for the US$970 million (S$1.34 billion) prize will take place on Friday at 11pm EDT (11am Saturday Singapore Time). PHOTO: EPA-EFE

NEW YORK (BLOOMBERG, REUTERS) - The Mega Millions jackpot just hit a record US$970 million (S$1.34 billion) for Friday's (Oct 19) drawing, the second-largest US lottery pool ever, trailing only the US$1.59 billion Powerball prize in 2016.

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

"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 US$667 million on Tuesday when no one had the lucky six numbers, will take place on Friday at 11pm EDT (11am Saturday Singapore time).

Powerball will hold a separate drawing on Saturday for an estimated US$430 million jackpot.

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 US$543 million jackpot.

The odds of winning the Mega Millions jackpot are one in 302,575,350.

To win the jackpot, a player must correctly pick six numbers - five white balls from 1 to 70 and the yellow "mega ball" from 1 to 25.

Winners are offered two options: take the US$970 million in payments spread over 30 years or as a lump sum of US$548 million. That's before taxes, of course.

A single winner in New York City who opts for the US$548 million cash jackpot would only bring home about half that much, US$276 million, after all taxes are paid, according to calculations by H&R Block Inc.

The winner would pay US$203 million in federal taxes, US$48 million in state taxes and US$21 million in city income tax. A California resident would do even worse, bringing home US$272 million after taxes, H&R Block said.

Mega Millions is offered in 44 states, the District of Columbia and the US Virgin Islands.

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