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Mega Millions Hits Record-Setting Jackpot Of $500 Million

Expect People From Far And Wide To Try Their Luck At Life-Changing Drawing
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FILE - A Mega Millions lottery ticket. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

FILE – A Mega Millions lottery ticket. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – No one won Tuesday night’s Mega Millions jackpot pushing Friday’s top prize to a half billion dollars, the highest in U.S. history.

The winning numbers for Tuesday’s drawing were: 9, 19, 34, 44, 51 and the Mega ball 24. Eleven players in New York and two in New Jersey matched five numbers, but not the Mega ball, earning them $250,000 each.

1010 WINS’ Al Jones reports

Get ready for big lines to buy those lottery tickets in advance of Friday’s next drawing as dreamers plunk down a dollar and a lot more for a shot at winning what is now estimated at a record-shattering $500 million.

As expected, the allure of all that cash is creating quite the buzz.

“I’m going to buy six tickets in different areas,” said millionaire hopeful Efrain Roldan, who is playing his daughter’s birthday numbers. “They say if you buy them in different areas you get lucky.”

The last time Mega Millions was even close to this size was back in 2007. The jackpot then stood at $390 million and it was shared by two winners in Georgia and New Jersey.

“I am going to leave New York. I’m going to be on island far away from here,” said one lottery hopeful.

“If you’re thinking, ‘Oh there are 44 states involved in the Mega Millions family and there’s no chance in heck I’m going to win,’ hey, somebody’s gotta win and it might as well be you,” New York Lottery spokeswoman Yolanda Vega told 1010 WINS. “A dollar and a dream, cause hey, you never know.”

So how do you pick those lucky numbers?

“I collect the little fortune cookie numbers. I said you know what let me try it, so I had a little stack of them and I wrote them down on a paper and I’m playing it now,” Janet Prasad told CBS 2’s Cindy Hsu.

Dan Nugent told Hsu he will spend about $70 on tickets and has his own system.

“I’ll spend a little here, a little there. I don’t want to buy it all in one place. I don’t usually like to look at my ticket after I buy it. Nah,  it’s bad luck,” Nugent said.

But not everyone believes a ritual will work.

“There is absolutely no strategy,” said Dr. Thomas Lamatsch, who teaches research methods and statistics at Monmouth University.

He and his colleagues have looked into methods of picking winning lottery numbers and said there is no sure-fire method to picking those winning numbers.

“You can pick your own numbers, have the computer pick your numbers,” he said. “The chances of winning are right on the lottery site, 1 in 176 million.”

Frank Eulner is one of those rare people who knows all about winning the lottery because he won $2.3 million 20 years ago.

“It was a helluva nice lift to me,” Eulner told CBS 2’s Sean Hennessey on Wednesday night. “I retired pretty quickly after that. I had 20 years of great fun.”

The former stock broker said that’s because he took the annual payments of $84,000 and advises anyone who wins Mega Millions to do the same because it’s a nice cushion to have every year.

“Take the annuity. It’s so much better,” Eulner said.

However, financial planner Scott Kahan said not so fast.

“When you just crunch the numbers, you’re better off taking the lump sum,” Kahan said.

Here’s his reasoning: Someone winning the $500 million jackpot who opts for the lump sum would get $359 million, and $180 million after taxes. Kahan said if a winner invested all of it and earned even 3 percent a year, it would mean $5.4 million in annual income, and the $180 million would still be untouched.

“You’d really be set. I mean most people getting $5 million a year is plenty of income,” Kahan told Hennessey.

Once you buy your ticket, first thing you should do is sign the back. Lottery officials said if you have the winning numbers and your ticket is lost or stolen, whoever has the ticket can file that jackpot.

According to the National Weather Service, you’d have a better change of being struck by lightning in your lifetime than you would winning the Mega jackpot. Those odds are only 1 in 10,000.

Friday night is the next drawing, so there’s plenty of time for that half a billion dollar jackpot to go a lot higher. You can see the Mega Millions results Friday night on CBS 2 News at 11 p.m.

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