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Mega Millions jackpot passes the $1 billion mark

UPDATED: Sat., Oct. 20, 2018

A man walks past Mega Millions and other lottery displays outside of The Lucky Spot in San Francisco, Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018. The Mega Millions jackpot has passed the $1 billion mark. Numbers have been announced, though the winner is still unknown. (Jeff Chiu / AP)
A man walks past Mega Millions and other lottery displays outside of The Lucky Spot in San Francisco, Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018. The Mega Millions jackpot has passed the $1 billion mark. Numbers have been announced, though the winner is still unknown. (Jeff Chiu / AP)

Jon Lee walked up to the customer service counter at Yoke’s Foods with one goal: to buy lottery tickets.

Lee said he doesn’t usually play the lottery, but when he heard that the jackpot had broken $1 billion, he figured he could spare $10 for five tickets. As he stood at the counter, thoughts of traveling to Japan and China swirled in his mind, but also donating to his church and other charities. And quitting his job, too.

Lee is among thousands to test their luck in the lotto for the second highest jackpot in history. Powerball changed the rules in Mega Millions one year ago, altering its odds from a 1 in 258,890,850 chance to a 1 in 302,575,350 chance of winning the jackpot.

Powerball told the Washington Post that the reason for changing the odds was smaller and more frequent jackpots could cause “jackpot fatigue.”

Shortly after Lee bought his tickets, Bob Johnson strolled up to the counter at Yoke’s Foods, which Washington Lottery ranked tied for third luckiest store in Eastern Washington when counting “big wins,” which are scratch-it tickets with payouts more than $1,000.

What would Johnson buy if he won? “I don’t have any idea,” he said. But later he said he’d buy a new Subaru Impreza because they’re good in the snow. He bought a couple of the $2 tickets, hoping for the best.

Winning numbers were announced at 9 p.m.: 15, 23, 53, 65, 70, with a Mega Ball of 7. But it would take a few hours for Powerball to announce if there was a winner for the jackpot. If there’s no winner, the jackpot will grow to be tied for the largest jackpot ever, tying a Powerball payout in 2016 that rocketed to $1.6 billion.

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