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Millions Across US Line Up for $1 Billion Lottery Jackpot

Signs display the jackpots for Mega Millions and Powerball lottery drawings at a newsstands in midtown Manhattan in New York, Oct. 19, 2018.

Millions of people in the U.S. are anxiously awaiting Friday's drawing for the Mega Millions jackpot, which has climbed to $1 billion, the largest-ever for the American lottery game.

Friday's drawing is the second-largest lottery pool ever in U.S. history, topped only by the $1.59 billion Powerball award in 2016.

People with dreams of quitting their jobs or donating to charity have been lining up at retail stores in recent days to buy lottery tickets for the $970 million Mega Millions jackpot, despite overwhelming odds of winning.

Mega Millions bet cards are shown at the Corner Market, Oct. 17, 2018, in Lyndhurst, Ohio.
Mega Millions bet cards are shown at the Corner Market, Oct. 17, 2018, in Lyndhurst, Ohio.

The odds of winning the Mega Millions jackpot are 1-in-303 million, much less than the National Weather Service's 1-in-more than 1 million estimate of being struck by lightning in a given year.

If a person purchases a ticket with the lucky six numbers, the winnings can be claimed one of two ways (the computation was based on figures when the jackpot stood at $970 million): accept the $970 million in payments spread over 30 years or take a lump sum of $548 million.

The lump sum would be subject to federal, state and local taxes totaling tens of millions of dollars, depending on where the winner lives. A winner who lives in California, for example, would be left with $272 million after taxes, according to the tax preparation company H&R Block.

If ticket holders fail to win the Mega Millions jackpot, they can also pursue their dreams by participating in the Powerball lottery, which will hold its drawing on Saturday for an estimated $430 million jackpot.

Both lotteries are offered in 44 U.S. states, Washington, D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands.