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

(Reuters) – The U.S. Mega Millions lottery jackpot jumped to a record $1 billion on Friday, hours before the drawing for what is also the second-largest lottery prize in U.S. history.

FILE PHOTO: A Mega Millions ticket is pictured in a store in New York City, New York, U.S., January 5, 2018. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/File Photo

“This is truly uncharted territory, and it’s exciting to see people across the country buying their tickets and joining in the fun,” Gordon Medenica, lead director of Mega Millions, said in a statement.

FILE PHOTO: A man purchases a lottery ticket in New York City, Oct. 17, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

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, anyone who becomes a Mega Millions billionaire is likely to have a lot left over.

With the prize up for grabs, excitement over Mega Millions tickets, which are sold in 44 U.S. states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands, has attracted attention even 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 largest U.S. lottery prize was a $1.586 billion Powerball jackpot paid out in 2016.

Reporting by Gabriella Borter; Editing by Jessica Resnick-Ault

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source: reuters.com