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US$1.6 billion US lottery jackpot goes to one ticket

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The Mega Millions jackpot and a Powerball lottery prize have spread lottery fever across the US in recent days.

New York

THE Mega Millions drawing was held on Tuesday night (Wednesday morning, Singapore time) with a record-setting US$1.6 billion prize on line that has millions of Americans dreaming of buying homes, cars, helping financially strapped friends and family and early retirement.

The lucky numbers 5, 28, 62, 65, 70, as well as the Mega Ball 5, were drawn. Anyone who hits all six numbers to win the jackpot can choose an immediate cash payment of US$904 million or receive the US$1.6 billion prize over 29 years.

A lottery official said just one ticket, sold in South Carolina, matched all the numbers.

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The buyer of the ticket beat the odds of 1 in 303 million to win the Mega Millions drawing for the largest jackpot in US history.

The Mega Millions jackpot and a Powerball lottery prize that stands at US$620 million have spread lottery fever across the US in recent days.

On Tuesday morning, a few customers waited in line at a newsstand in the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City to purchase last-minute tickets.

Fernando Chavez said if he wins he would immediately hire a financial adviser. "I'd buy a few properties, get my family in order and share with my neighbourhood," said the 27-year-old who lives in the Harlem neighbourhood of Manhattan.

Experts caution that the winner or winners will face many headaches that come along with their newfound riches. "A big mistake people think: this is a lot of money so let me help everyone," Laurie Ruckel, a trusts and estates lawyer at Loeb & Loeb law firm in New York, said on Tuesday. "There are plenty of people who know how to exploit that ignorance."

Ms Ruckel said the crush of publicity that falls on a lottery winner is something that most people do not usually experience, even those with a high net-worth. She said prize recipients should create a trust and hire a team of lawyers, financial advisers and security.

Mega Millions set a record for lottery jackpots after nobody won the US$1 billion prize last Friday.

The previous record was a US$1.586 billion jackpot for a Powerball drawing in 2016.

The 1 in 303 million odds of winning the Mega Millions drawing is up from 1 in 259 million a year ago; the change was made to generate larger prizes.

In comparison, the odds of getting killed by a shark are 1 in 3.7 million in a lifetime, according to the International Shark Attack File.

Tickets sold for Tuesday's drawing were expected to cover 75 per cent of all possible number combinations, lottery officials said.

Wednesday's Powerball lottery prize stands at US$620 million, making it the fifth-largest jackpot in US history, after no one got all six numbers at last Saturday's drawing. The lump sum cash payout is estimated at US$354.3 million.

The US$1.6 billion jackpot, a jaw-dropping amount to the average person who can afford a US$2 ticket, is still less than two weeks of profit for technology giant Apple.

A US$1.5 million investment in Microsoft Corp in 1986 would be worth about US$1.6 billion today.

Mega Millions tickets are sold in 44 US states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands. Several states allow online ticket purchases, but they prohibit out-of-state and foreign purchases.

States receive a percentage of lottery ticket sales and then use the money to support public schools or meet other needs.

Both lottery jackpots have been increased recently by rule changes that have reduced the chances of winning. REUTERS