Mega Millions jackpot skyrockets to $640 million
The enormous prize brings a one-time cash option of an estimated $462 million before taxes, or a winner could choose annual payments of about $24 million before taxes for 26 years.
"This is history, and we’re enjoying it," California spokeswoman Donna Cordova said Friday. "This is just a shared moment for the entire country. We’re rolling into uncharted territory here."
Lotto fever struck Los Angeles soon after officials announced there was no winner in Tuesday’s $363 million drawing. Officials say they have met every night since Tuesday and watched the number grow from $540 million Thursday to the astronomical figured released Friday.
“It’s so high — I mean, that’s astronomical,” said Charlie Blair, 70, a retired mechanical engineer.
Blair had never played the lottery until he heard about the record payout, and he headed to a gas station near his Koreatown apartment Thursday to buy a single ticket.
According to the California Lottery, the chance of winning Mega Millions is 1 in about 176 million.
Or as California statistician Mike Orkin, puts it: If you buy 50 tickets a week, you will win the jackpot every 68,000 years.
-- Matt Stevens, Corina Knoll and Anna Gorman
Photo: A man makes his lottery picks at a convenience store in Manhattan. Credit: Stan Honda / AFP/Getty Images