US lottery jackpots climb to US$2.2 billion combined after no winners

REUTERS: Who wants to be a billionaire?

For US$2 a ticket, you have chance to be among the richest people in the world if you beat the longshot odds of 1 in 303 million to win the Mega Millions lottery jackpot of US$1.6 billion Tuesday night.

The sum reached a world record for lottery jackpots after there were no winners claimed a US$1 billion prize on Friday.

It is so much money that if you took the instant cash payout in US$100 bills, you could make a stack over 3,200 feet (975 meters) taller than any building in the world, according to Reuters calculations.

"Mega Millions has already entered historic territory, but it’s truly astounding to think that now the jackpot has reached an all-time world record," Gordon Medenica, lead director of the Mega Millions Group, said in a statement.

But you are more likely to get killed by a shark than win, with odds of a shark attack at 1 in 3.7 million, according the Tucson, Arizona-based International Wildlife Museum.

Before taxes, the cash value of the Mega Millions prize will be an estimated US$904 million, which is greater than the gross domestic product of countries including South Africa, Colombia and Switzerland, according to 2017 figures from the World Bank.

Wednesday’s Powerball lottery prize stands at an estimated US$620 million, making it the fifth largest jackpot in U.S. history, officials said, after no one got all six numbers in Saturday’s drawing.

The lump sum cash payout is estimated at US$354.3 million.

The current Mega Millions jackpot beats the previous record, a US$1.586 billion jackpot for a Powerball drawing in 2016, said Seth Elkin, a spokesman for Mega Millions.

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If there is more than one winner, the jackpot would be shared, as happened when the previous Mega Millions record of US$656 million was drawn in March 2012 and was divided between winners in Kansas, Illinois and Maryland, a lottery official said.

(This story has been refilled to correct height of money if stacked up in paragraph 4 and to correct source of information and corrects paragraph 7 to say before taxes, not after taxes)

(Reporting by Rich McKay; Additional reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)