The rush to buy tickets for what U.S. officials say is the world's largest lottery jackpot is about to pay off.
Mega Millions lottery officials say winning tickets for the record $640 million jackpot were sold in three states - Maryland, Kansas and Illinois.
Each winning ticket has an estimated value of about $213 million before taxes. There is no information yet about who bought the winning tickets, or how many people will get a share of the payoff.
The dream of winning more than one-half billion dollars drew crowds of people in many parts of the country. The Mega Millions lottery operates in 42 of the 50 U.S. states, in the nation's capital and in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The odds of matching all the lottery numbers were 1 in 176 million, but Mega Millions lead director Gary Grief says that did not deter would-be millionaires from giving it a go.
"Last night [Friday], between the hours of, oh, 5 to 10 o'clock around the country, we were selling Mega Millions tickets at the rate of about a million dollars a minute. Never before have we seen that kind of frenzy," he said.
The record-setting jackpot grew to the largest in world history after no one matched the winning numbers in January, and 18 drawings later, there still was no winner.
Most of those buying lottery tickets this week knew their chances of winning were slim, but said it was worth a shot.
Andy Morgenstern was one of them.
"It's the idea of a dream. I think it's just another way of living the American dream, to have a lottery available here like this is pretty amazing. And everybody thinks that, 'One day if I win the lottery, what will I do with it?' So I think it's fun," he said.
Some information for this report was provided by AP.