October 19, 2018 / 10:00 AM / 25 days ago

U.S. Mega Millions jackpot nears $1 billion hours before drawing

Oct 19 (Reuters) - The U.S. Mega Millions lottery reached nearly $1 billion on Friday, the day of the drawing of what is now the second-largest lottery in U.S. history.

New Yorkers queuing 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. Still, with winnings from the largest-ever $970 million Mega Millions jackpot, they might have a lot left over.

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 $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.

The immediate cash value of the Mega Millions prize is $548 million. Otherwise $970 million is paid out over 29 years. The largest U.S. lottery prize was a $1.586 billion Powerball jackpot paid out in 2016.

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. (Reporting by Gabriella Borter; editing by Jessica Resnick-Ault)

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