Saturday, March 31, 2012

Record breaking US lottery prize hits $640 million

It was frenzy on Friday for Americans hoping to win what was described as "the world's largest jackpot" of $640 million in an historic lottery. The chance to get suddenly very, very rich -- even if it was only a one-in-176-million chance -- sparked feverish ticket sales at convenience stores and news kiosks across the United States ahead of the 11.00pm (0300 GMT) drawing for the Mega Millions prize.

The jackpot hit a record level because no one had matched the magic five numbers and Mega Ball since January 24 -- a full 18 drawings with no winner.

The tickets made it unequivocally clear: this was nothing less than "the world's largest jackpot."

Mega Millions is played in 42 US states plus the national capital Washington and the US Virgin Islands. Foreigners can play, too, but they must be in the United States.

The lucky winner gets to choose between an immediate cash option or the full amount disbursed over 26 annual payments. The prize will then take a severe knock in federal and state taxes.

But whatever the final sum, it had already knocked the previous US record drawing of $390 million in 2007, out of the park.

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