Lottery fever hits as ‘Mega Millions’ jackpot reaches $540 million

March 30th, 2012 - 6:55 pm ICT by BNO News  

WASHINGTON, D.C. (BNO NEWS) — The jackpot for Friday’s Mega Millions drawing increased to $540 million on Thursday, an increase of $40 million compared to a day earlier as millions across the United States have rushed to buy a ticket in hopes of winning the world’s largest jackpot in history.

After no one won the jackpot in Tuesday’s drawing, the jackpot for Friday’s drawing was initially estimated at $476 million. But with stronger than anticipated sales across the country, the jackpot increased to $500 million on Wednesday and then to $540 million on Thursday. The jackpot may increase again before the drawing takes place on Friday evening.

“Friday night’s Mega Millions drawing will truly be a spectacular event in lottery history and provides an unprecedented opportunity for players to take a chance on a half-billion dollar dream for just the $1 price of a ticket,” said Gary Grief, executive director of the Texas Lottery and lead director for the Mega Millions group.

The winner of the $540 million jackpot will have the option to receive the amount in annual payments over a 26-year period or to be paid $389.8 million immediately, although the prizes are still subject to federal, state and local taxes. Mega Millions is a multi-state lottery game played in 42 states plus the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Lottery fever was reported across the United States on Thursday, with some people investing hundreds of dollars to buy the $1 tickets. Tens of thousands of residents in Nevada, which does not have a state lottery, have ventured across state lines to buy tickets in neighboring California and Arizona.

Outside the Terrible’s Lotto Store in the Nevada town of Primm, hundreds of people lined up Thursday and waited up to four hours to buy their lottery tickets. The convenience store is officially part of the California town of Nipton, but it is located along a road in Primm which is directly on the state border. Being on the right side of the road, the store is allowed to sell the lottery tickets for Mega Millions.

The jackpot has been growing since January 24 when Mega Millions had its most recent jackpot winner, Marcia Adams of College Park, Georgia, who won $72 million. Drawings are held Tuesdays and Fridays at 11:00 p.m. Eastern Time, so the jackpot has rolled 18 times without a winner.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said President Barack Obama is not expecting to buy a ticket, after being asked by a reporter during the daily briefing whether the president is tempted to buy one. “No,” Carney said, “but I’m going to run out and buy one.”

According to Mega Millions, the odds of winning the $540 million jackpot are approximately one in 176 million. The odds of winning any of the Mega Millions prizes are approximately 1 in 40. In Tuesday’s drawing, four tickets each won $1 million and 43 other tickets each won $250,000.

Previously, the world’s largest jackpot was $390 million, won by two players in Georgia and New Jersey in March 2007.

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