US Lotteries Reaching Huge Jackpots
The Mega Millions jackpot, a lottery fed by twelve US states, has reached an estimated $333 million, making it the third-largest lottery payout in US history. The near-record total is causing massive last-second rushes to buy tickets in New York and other states before the 11 p.m. drawing.
Lottery gambling has seen rapidly growing jackpots in the US in recent years, aided by states bonding together to form super-lotteries like Mega Millions and Powerball. Powerball just issued a $260 million payment to a single winner in South Carolina last week.
New York Mega Millions officials say they expected sales today to exceed a million dollars an hour, as players all want to get one more chance before the drawing.
"There's a lot of excitement about it, and we probably made a conservative estimate of the jackpot," said Mega Millions spokesman Jennifer Givner.
Mega Millions jackpots pay out 50 percent to winners, with 35 percent going to states and 15 percent to retailers and cost-covering. Fourteen drawings have been held without a jackpot winner.
A contestant winning tonight's giant prize would have the option to take 26 annual payments of $12.8 million a year, before taxes, or a lump sum of $210 million, also pre-tax. A 2007 Mega Millions jackpot was the largest payout in US lottery history, giving one lucky gambler $390 million.
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