(Deletes reference in paragraph 3 to Tomanelli playing game regularly)
Dec 13 The U.S. Mega Millions jackpot has grown to an estimated $400 million, prompting a rush of ticket-buying by people betting their luck will hold out when the game's second-largest drawing on record takes place on the night of Friday the 13th.
The lottery prize that may be snagged on what some consider an unlucky date will amount to $216 million if the winner chooses to take it in a lump sum rather than in 30 annual payments, according to the Mega Millions website www.megamillions.com.
Sam Tomanelli was buying a ticket at a corner grocery store on Manhattan's Upper West Side. The 57-year-old chef at Barnard College said he would share his winnings with friends, family and his church.
"You can't take it with you, you know?" he said.
Another ticket buyer, Pim Keo had visions of a new home, investments and gifts to relatives.
"I have a lot of family," the 47-year-old restaurant cashier said. "Some of them pretend like they don't know me now, but they'd definitely know me after that."
On Manhattan's Upper East Side, Remigio Raicovich, 78, stood in line to buy a ticket for the game he has played twice a week, every week for the last five years.
"Who knows, maybe once I'll get it right," Raicovich said.
To win the jackpot, one ticket must match all six numbers in the drawing, which is slated for 11 p.m. EST (0400 GMT Saturday).
No one has won the jackpot in more than two months, pushing the purse steadily higher, although it remains well below the record-setting $656 million won on March 30, 2012.
The next-largest prizes in the 17-year history of Mega Millions were worth $390 million and $380 million. (Reporting by Curtis Skinner, Elizabeth Dilts, Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)