Mega Millions jackpot grows to $970 million

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Illinois Lottery officials will give away 970 Mega Millions lottery tickets in Rockford Friday to promote the game's estimated $970 million jackpot - the second-largest lottery jackpot ever in the U.S.

There was no victor in Tuesday's Mega Millions lottery draw, meaning the jackpot is yet another rollover.

Lottery fever is sweeping the nation with a Mega Millions jackpot that is worth a cool $1 billion.

- The Florida Lottery is warning people not to fall for a Mega Millions scam.

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'We certainly know we get more pool play, people coming in making very large purchases for a group, ' said Chuck Strutt, executive director of the Urbandale, Iowa-based Multi-State Lottery Association that oversees the Mega Millions, Powerball and other lotteries.

For comparison, MI players bought 3.8 million tickets for Tuesday night's drawing - with 2.6 million purchased on Tuesday alone - when the jackpot was $667 million. The odds of matching five numbers and the Mega number are 1 in 302,575,350.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

And then there's Friday's monster Mega Millions drawing, the largest in the game's history.

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Every lottery ticket buyer believes that, and why not? The odds of winning the top prize were 1 in 258,890,850.

A single victor in New York City who opts for the US$548m cash jackpot would only bring home about half that much, US$276m, after all taxes are paid, according to calculations by H&R Block, a United States tax services company.

"If you buy 302 million tickets, and you chose them appropriately, and not at random, you're guaranteed to be a victor".

"Only when the jackpot is this huge", said Thomas.

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Melissa Labant, a tax policy expert at the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, said winners should realize that while taxes initially are withheld when prizes are awarded, more money likely will be due at tax time as people suddenly find themselves in a higher tax bracket. You can pick your own numbers or the computer will do it for you. "The reality is you can do a lot better with your money than spending it on lottery tickets".