Record Mega Millions jackpot creates ticket-
By the CNN Wire Staff
March 31, 2012 — Updated 0146 GMT (0946 HKT)
(CNN) — A historic $640 million jackpot is up for grabs Friday as the Mega Millions lottery is
living up to its name.
If there is no winner Friday, the jackpot would increase to an estimated $975 million, said
Athena Hernandez of the D.C. lottery. That drawing would occur Tuesday.Record Mega
Millions jackpot creates ticket-buying frenzy
The multistate jackpot has grown to become the largest ever offered that could be won by an
individual. It has caused long lines at convenience stores and has many dreaming of creative
ways to quit their jobs if they get the lucky numbers.
“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.Sales have skyrocketed at Manhattan Tobacco, a New York
convenience store, cashier Alex Shanahe said. He said the store has proved to be lucky before,
having sold winning tickets of $3 million and $5 million.
“The sales have tripled. Everybody wants to win the Mega Millions,” Shanahe said.
A single winner could claim yearly payments or a one-time cash option of $462 million, Mega
Millions spokeswoman Kelly Cripe said.
The drawing will be held at 11 p.m. ET Friday, and it can take several hours for lottery officials
to determine whether there is a winner and in what state the winning ticket was purchased.
The public can buy tickets until 10:45 p.m. ET Friday, but in Maine, New Hampshire and
Vermont, residents can purchase tickets only until 9:50 p.m. Oregon residents can buy tickets
until 7 p.m. PT.
The Mega Millions lottery is played in 42 states plus the District of Columbia and the Virgin
Islands, lottery officials say.
Mexicans from Ciudad Juarez were crossing the Rio Grande on Friday to buy tickets in El Paso,
Texas. “I would divide the money among my children and buy them a house here in El Paso, and
we would come from Juarez (to) here to live in peace,” said one man.
The odds of winning the jackpot are about one in 176 million, which means a person would have
a better chance of getting struck by lightning.
Richard Lustig, a seven-time lottery winner who has written a book about lottery strategies, said
it’s good to buy tickets as part of a group, to increase “buying power.” And while the urge to
take a chance on such a big jackpot may be alluring, Lustig said to guard against getting too
“Don’t go crazy with this,” he said. “Don’t get what’s called lottery fever. Do not spend grocery
money. Do not spend rent money.”Myra Langford, a 70-year-old retired school administrator,
said she knows the odds but still bought five tickets.
If she wins, Langford said, she will help fix the roof of her church and move out of the cramped
Queens apartment she lived in for the past 47 years.
“You got to be in it to win it,” she said, parroting a commercial.
Economist Austan Goolsbee, a professor at the University of Chicago who also chaired the
White House Council of Economic Advisers, said the winner or winners should take the lump
sum instead of the annuity.
The choice comes down to interest rates, and with interest rates at zero, the lump sum just makes
better financial sense, he said.
“If you are fortunate enough to win the lottery, you most certainly want to take the lump sum,”
Psychologist Scott Bea told CNN that if a winner is a poor money manager and has been
unhappy in life before winning, that’s likely to continue.
“It solves one problem, but it creates a half-billion others,” he said.
“You have about no chance at winning this, but it really gets people excited,” Bea added.
His wife asked him if the couple could spend $10 on lottery tickets.
“We could probably flush it down the toilet and have the same outcome, but if it gives you some
hope, why not?” Bea said.
CNN’s Mary Snow, Michael Martinez, Chris Dignam and Devon Sayers contributed to this
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