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Lottery fever: Mega Millions approaches $1 billion

October 19, 2018 GMT

BULLHEAD CITY — The Mega Millions jackpot had reached a record $970 million by late morning Thursday and Tri-state residents were lined up to purchase what they hoped would be the winning ticket.

John Gallagher, of Las Vegas, was among those buying Mega Millions in Bullhead City.

“We’re not big gamblers, but we do like to take a chance once in a while,” he said.

Gallagher bought five tickets for tonight’s drawing and five for Saturday’s Powerball drawing, which has a jackpot of “only” $470 million.

He and his wife, Denise, came to Bullhead City just to buy the tickets. Lottery tickets aren’t sold in Nevada.

Denise Gallagher said the couple would buy an RV and do some traveling if they won.

Daniel Cressman, of Bullhead City, bought a single quick-pick ticket.

“(If I won) I would be able to open up a youth center that I want to open,” said Cressman, who is out of work, and plays the lottery about once a month.

At least three convenience stores on Highway 95 reported busy lines Thursday. All expect sales to remain brisk today.

The prize is the second-largest jackpot in U.S. history, behind only a $1.6 billion Powerball prize won in 2016.

No one has matched all six numbers and won the Mega Millions grand prize since July 24. That reflects the game’s long odds, at 1-in-302.5 million.

The $970 million refers to the annuity option, paid over 29 years. Most winners take the cash option, which would pay an immediate $513 million. About half of the jackpot winnings would go to taxes.

Mega Millions is played in 44 states, plus Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands.