(Reuters) - It is the stuff that dreams are made of: A little computer printout with numbers on it. And on Friday night, one of them could be worth more than half a billion dollars.
The U.S. Mega Millions lottery, after an 11-week spell without a winner, has amassed its third-largest jackpot ever, $548 million, which will be up for grabs in Friday night’s drawing.
The prize money is drawn from ticket sales in 44 U.S. states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands. The immediate cash value of the prize, which winners can opt to take, is $309 million. The higher amount is the value if the prize is paid out over 29 years.
Since an 11-member office pool in Santa Clara County, California, hit a $543 million jackpot on July 24, there have been no winners over 22 drawings. With the odds of hitting the jackpot at one in 302.6 million, it is no wonder.
The odds of turning a $2 Mega Millions ticket into a winner of any kind, including a $2 prize simply for matching the “Mega ball,” are one in 24.
The largest Mega Millions grand prize was $656 million, won in 2012.
The current jackpot is the ninth largest of any U.S. lottery. The Powerball lottery holds the overall record with a $1.586 billion payout in 2016.
Reporting by Peter Szekely in New York; Editing by Cynthia Osterman