Combo $738 million weekend lotto jackpots have plenty fantasizing

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The Publix on Southern Boulevard in West Palm Beach was bustling with activity from Lottery players with visions of 200-foot yachts, beachfront mansions and gold-plated Bugatti Chirons in their near future.

But the Thursday lines of five or six were nothing compared to the crowd that is expected to devour tickets today of the combined $738 million lotto jackpot for Mega Millions and Powerball, said Publix employee Brendon Fugere.

The two U.S. lotteries have rolled over multiple times and have reached a combined total of $738 million.

It is the first time people have a choice of games with jackpots topping $300 million.

The Mega Millions top prize is $382 million, which is the sixth largest in the game’s history. The next drawing is 11 p.m. today.

The $356 million Powerball jackpot drawing is 11 p.m. Saturday. It is the 14th largest in the game’s history.

Most of those in line Thursday simply want to pay off debts, while others hope they will be able to make a better life for themselves and those they love. Some, however, have bigger aspirations.

Scott Ferguson, 55, plans to buy an island in the Keys if he wins big. Ferguson, of West Palm Beach, buys a ticket a week and uses birthdates from family members as his number choices.

Urania Pena has been playing the Mega Millions for about eight years and buys tickets every week.

What would she buy with the money?

“Everything for my family,” Pena said.

Pena also said she would send money to her home country of the Dominican Republic to help people there.

Even if players don’t win the jackpot, they can claim up to $5 million with Mega Millions and $2 million with Powerball, according to the Florida Lottery.

Players win the Mega Millions game by matching numbers with the ones on the five white balls and the golden Mega Ball number. The overall odds of winning something in the game are about 1 in 15, according to the Florida Lottery. The jackpot reached $382 million after Tuesday night’s draw didn’t result in a winner.

The Powerball game is played similarly and has reached a jackpot of $356 million after the most recent draw, said Taylor Nash, the spokesperson for the Florida Lottery.

The odds for winning some prize in while playing the Powerball are about 1 in 25, Nash said.

Fugere has seen a lot of people come and go from the Publix lottery line, some making a few dollars, sometimes quite a bit more, he said. Most, however, come up empty.

“People that buy a lot, they end up losing money,” Fugere said.

The odds are slim.

- 1 in 292,201,338 for the Powerball grand prize.

- 1 in 258,890,850 for the Mega Millions grand prize.

- 1 in an estimated 1 in 75 quadrillion for winning both.

Hector Mena, 47, remains optimistic. Mena, a financial analyst from Wellington, buys tickets about once a month.

“You’re buying into an opportunity,” Mena said.

Thursday, he won $125, a profit of $13.

“I’m lucky,” Mena said.

How much will you win?

Mega Millions

Grand prize: $382 million

Lump sum payment: $238.3 million

After federal taxes: $178 million

Powerball

Grand prize: $382 million

Lump sum payment: $224 million

After federal taxes: $168 million

State taxes: California, Delaware, Florida, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and Wyoming have no state tax on lottery prizes.

SOURCE: USAMega.com

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