October 23, 2018 / 8:14 AM / 23 days ago

Record $1.6 billion jackpot up for grabs in Tuesday's Mega Millions drawing

NEW YORK, Oct 22 (Reuters) - A record-setting $1.6 billion prize that would instantly make a single winner one of the richest people in the world will be up for grabs on Tuesday when the Mega Millions holds its drawing.

The drawing will be held at 11 p.m. EDT (0300 GMT Wednesday).

Anyone who hits all six numbers to win the jackpot can choose an immediate cash payment of $904 million or receive the $1.6 billion prize over 29 years.

The Mega Millions jackpot, along with a Powerball lottery prize that stands at $620 million, has caused lotto fever to sweep across the U.S. over the last few days.

“I’ll never win, but you gotta give it a shot,” Hank Kattan, 75, said in Manhattan on Monday. “I’d like to change my way of life.”

Mega Millions set a record for lottery jackpots after nobody won the $1 billion prize on Friday. The previous record was a $1.586 billion jackpot for a Powerball drawing in 2016.

Lottery players face odds of 1 in 303 million of winning the Mega Millions drawing. In comparison, the odds of getting killed by a shark are 1 in 3.7 million in a lifetime, according to the International Shark Attack File.

Tickets sold for Tuesday’s drawing are expected to cover 75 percent of all possible number combinations, he said.

Wednesday’s Powerball lottery prize stands at $620 million, making it the fifth-largest jackpot in U.S. history, after no one got all six numbers in Saturday’s drawing. The lump sum cash payout is estimated at $354.3 million.

If more than one person wins, the jackpots would be divided proportionately, as happened in 2012 with a Mega Millions jackpot of $656 million, a lottery official said.

Mega Millions tickets are sold in 44 U.S. states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands. Several states allow online ticket purchases, but they prohibit out-of-state and foreign purchases.

Both lottery jackpots have been increased recently by rule changes that have reduced the chances of winning. The odds of winning Mega Millions were raised a year ago from 1 in 259 million to generate larger prizes. (Additional reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee, editing by Larry King)

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