Mega Millions jackpot balloons ahead of drawing

Mario Tama  Getty Images

Mario Tama Getty Images

The estimated jackpot for Friday's drawing would be the second-largest lottery prize in USA history.

Mega Millions announced a $900 million jackpot Thursday, the largest in the history of the game.

Players have been busy flocking to stores in recent days to purchase tickets as the new jackpot of $970 million is the second-largest prize in USA history.

According to Kurland, a $970 million victor would take home about $570 million in a lump sum before taxes.

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From July 27 through October 16, Mega Millions sales in North Carolina raised an estimated $10.6 million for education, the lottery site said. The odds of winning the top prize were 1 in 258,890,850. Last year, they spent $72.97 billion on traditional lottery tickets, according to Gallup.

The drawing takes place at 9 p.m.

Most people take the cash payout.

Lottery officials recommend winners take a deep breath, put their winning ticket in a safe spot and consult with a reputable financial planner before popping over to the lottery headquarters. Carole Gentry, a spokeswoman for the Maryland lottery, said the requirement is seven to 10 days in that state.

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Every lottery ticket buyer believes that, and why not? "Problem is someone else may be a victor of the jackpot", Odlyzko said.

Lottery officials are happy to have Friday's record Mega Millions jackpot fueling ticket sales.

Tipsters claim that the odds of winning both jackpots is one in 88 quadrillion, which is 88 followed by 15 zeros for the mathematically-challenged amongst us.

You must match all five numbers plus the Mega number to win the grand prize.

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He calls these gamblers "infrequent players", and their participation helps boost jackpots to historic levels, he said. "The way you want to think about it is that there are set amount of numbers in the game, and it's you against probability, not against the other players". In that year, lottery ticket sales eclipsed the combined total of what Americans spent on movies, video games, books, music and sports tickets.

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