A lineup for lottery tickets as Mega Millions’ jackpot hits $1.2 billion

A Mega Millions lottery ticket: $2.

The payout: a whopping $1.28 billion.

This would make it the second largest jackpot in the game’s history and the third largest lottery draw overall, officials said. This comes after no winning ticket was sold for Tuesday’s $830 million draw.

The cash option now stands at $747.2 million, Mega Millions officials announced on Friday.

Cindy McAdoo-Stewart drove from Lancaster to buy her Mega Millions lottery tickets at Bluebird Liquor in Hawthorne.

Cindy McAdoo-Stewart drove from Lancaster to buy her Mega Millions lottery tickets at Bluebird Liquor in Hawthorne.

(Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times)

“We are excited by the opportunity Mega Millions offers to retailers, players and charities across the country,” said Pat McDonald, director of the Ohio Lottery, currently executive director of the Mega Millions Consortium, in a press release. “The Mega Millions group, and indeed much of the country, is looking forward to today’s draw.”

According to Mega Millions, there is a 1 in 303 million chance of winning the jackpot.

The Blue Bird Liquor Store in Hawthorne is considered one of the luckiest lottery stores in the state. Dozens of residents from across Southern California made their way there Friday morning to try to maximize their luck.

The liquor store line wrapped around the block on Friday morning.

Cindy McAdoo-Stewart, 62, left her home in Antelope Valley around 6 a.m. to cross the line.

People line up to buy tickets for the Mega Millions lottery.

People line up to buy tickets for the Mega Millions lottery.

(Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times)

“I heard about Blue Bird a while ago, so I’m from Lancaster. I picked my mom up and said, ‘Let’s try our luck and go to Blue Bird,'” McAdoo-Stewart said.

If she wins the historic jackpot prize, she plans to take care of her family and donate 10% of the money to her church.

McAdoo-Stewart bought $6 worth of tickets for herself, and her mother, Mary McAdoo, bought $8, noting that “it only takes one ticket”.

Mike Dietz, 46, made a two-hour hike from Riverside to buy $40 lottery tickets at Blue Bird. Dietz, who used to live in Hawthorne, said it was worth the drive to try and win the billion dollar prize. This is the first time he buys a lottery ticket.

“I’m here to try to reach that billion dollars and to share the wealth with all my family and friends and every charity I can and to live a healthy life,” Dietz said.

George Vazquez, 67, noted he waited in a 45-minute line at Blue Bird in hopes of becoming a millionaire — not a billionaire, he said, because he’s “willing to share.”

Ronald Marine, right, sells $200 Mega Millions lottery to Paul Sandoval

Ronald Marine, right, sells $200 Mega Millions lottery tickets to client Paul Sandoval.

(Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times)

Vazquez, a self-proclaimed “animal lover” who owns an English Bulldog and three Chihuahuas, hopes to help get animals off the streets if he wins the jackpot prize.

“If I win this, I want to open a sanctuary for dogs and cats — to have a place for them to live and eat,” Vazquez said. “I don’t like to see [animals] walking the streets without food or water, so I would like to take care of them.”

Vazquez also pledged that each of his 10 children and 14 grandchildren will get “a piece” of the prize.

The jackpot has been rolling since April with no one winning the grand prize. In 2022 alone, there were four Mega Millions jackpots in California, New York, Minnesota and Tennessee. The highest jackpot so far this year was $426 million, won by Kristen Wellenstein with a ticket purchased at Woodland Hills on January 28th.

Despite difficult opportunities, companies also hedge their bets.

After Raising Cane co-chief executive AJ Kumaran spent $100,000 on Tuesday’s drawing and had no luck, he said the company is dropping the same amount for today’s drawing.

If one of their lots is a winner, company executives plan to split the billion-dollar prize evenly among employees, meaning each worker would receive about $13,000.

“[We’re] I hope one of these tickets works as hard as our crew members do,” said company founder and co-CEO Todd Graves Twitter.

As people prepare to buy their tickets today, experts and the company Mega Millions warn them not to be aware of possible scams.

Aura, a personal digital security and identity theft protection company, is working to identify various scams, including those related to lotteries.

According to Aura’s lead scientist and cybersecurity expert, Zulfikar Ramzan, lottery scams are most common through official-looking emails, texts, or phone calls claiming you’ve won the lottery. They usually ask for a small upfront payment, sometimes they claim it covers the taxes.

Then “the scammer goes dark and the ‘lottery winnings’ never come,” Ramzan said.

The company Mega Millions assures that no representative of the company will ever contact anyone to win a prize.

“All Mega Millions members encourage responsible gaming – please enjoy the opportunity to play the game while balancing your play,” the company said in a press release.

Scams also occur via fraudulent websites claiming to sell tickets online. Scammers could also come forward and claim to have won the prize, Ramzan said. They then pretend to donate some of the money, often asking for personal or financial information that they can use to withdraw money from your accounts.

“Prior to signing up with Aura, one of our clients was contacted by a ‘lottery winner’ after a recent big jackpot, telling him he was giving away a large sum of money,” Ramzan said. “After the scammer provided financial information to obtain the money, the scammer charged thousands of dollars to a debit card, causing the caller’s account to go into the red.”

Ramzan said there are many ways to avoid lottery fraud. He encourages people to buy tickets only from authorized stores at the standard price and beware of scammers claiming they’ve won a prize.

Ramzan also warns against giving confidential information to unknown numbers or email addresses.

“Scammers will use the lottery to trick you into buying fake tickets at a lower cost. Lottery tickets are set at a standard price. If someone offers to sell you an “official lottery ticket” at a reduced price, it’s most likely a scam,” Ramzan said.

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-07-29/californians-head-to-lottery-stores-hope-to-win-mega-millions-1-billion-prize A lineup for lottery tickets as Mega Millions’ jackpot hits $1.2 billion

Alley Einstein

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