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.

A customer holds Mega Millions tickets at a newsstand in midtown Manhattan in New York

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 had it all in US$100 bills, you could make a stack about as high as the World Trade Center in New York city, the lottery’s website said.

"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.

After 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, Columbia 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, officals 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.

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