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Who wants to be a billionaire? Americans cross fingers for record lottery

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The Mega Millions game, which was created in 2002, has seen changes over the years that have reduced the chances of winning, meaning bigger and bigger jackpots. Image: AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA

The prize for Friday’s Mega Millions contest in the United States has soared to $1 billion, representing the largest jackpot in global lottery history if claimed by a single winner.

It could be a great way to kick off the weekend.

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Lines were forming Friday morning at gas stations and 7-11s across the 44 states, the federal capital Washington and the U.S. Virgin Islands where the lottery is held, with the draw to take place at 11:00 p.m. local time (0300 GMT).

The previous largest single jackpot of $758.7 million was won last year by Mavis Wanczyk, a 53-year-old mother of two from Massachusetts.

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In 2016, a $1.6 billion Powerball prize was split three ways by ticket holders from California, Florida and Tennessee. Each took home $528.8 million.

The game, which was created in 2002, has seen changes over the years that have reduced the chances of winning, meaning bigger and bigger jackpots.

If someone picks the winning six numbers, they can either claim the jackpot in 30 payments over 30 years — the so-called annuity option — or take a reduced amount in a lump sum.

On Friday, that would be a total of $565 million before taxes, according to the Mega Millions website.

The likelihood of that happening? One in 302.5 million.

U.S. lottery winnings are taxable at the federal level, unlike in many other countries, while some states also impose local taxes. NVG

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