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Mega Millions 2018: What are the odds of winning the $1 billion jackpot, and more questions answered

Mega Millions and Powerball are approaching record numbers. Here’s what the winner could buy if they hit the jackpot. USA TODAY

An attendant changes the signage for the Mega Millions jackpot total outside a lottery booth in downtown Boston, Massachusetts, on October 18, 2018. The estimated jackpot total for the drawing is $970,000,000. (Photo: CJ GUNTHER, EPA-EFE)

The $1 billion Mega Millions jackpot will be up for grabs Friday night, after ballooning from $868 million Wednesday morning.

Do you think you have the lucky numbers? USA TODAY answers your questions about the historic lottery drawing:

What time is the Mega Millions?

The Mega Millions drawing will be 11 p.m. ET on Friday in Atlanta, Georgia at the WSB-TV studios. If you’re not on the East Coast, that’s 10 p.m. CT, 9 p.m. MT and 8 p.m. PT.

You have a few options if you want to watch for your numbers. The drawing will be broadcast live to different news affiliates, so check your local listings to see what channel to flip to Friday night. You can also check the Mega Millions website or download the app.

Is this the largest lottery winning ever?

At $1 billion, this is the largest Mega Millions jackpot ever, but it isn’t the largest lottery winning ever.

The largest lottery jackpot in United States history was $1.6 billion from a Powerball game in January 2016. The former record holder for Mega Millions was a $656 million prize in 2012. The prize was split three ways in both of these drawings, with each winner receiving at least $200 million – before taxes, of course.

Wasn’t there a drawing on Tuesday?

There was a drawing Tuesday night, but nobody guessed all six numbers. Tuesday’s winning numbers? 3, 45, 49, 61, 69, and 9.

One person did receive a $1.9 million prize Tuesday for guessing five of the six total numbers correctly at a Safeway grocery store in San Francisco.

If nobody claims the Mega Millions jackpot in the required time limit – which varies state by state – each state will get the money it contributed to the jackpot back. For example, in Virginia you have 180 days to claim the prize, otherwise profits go to K-12 education.

How late can you buy a ticket for Mega Millions?

You can buy a Mega Millions ticket until 10:45 on drawing night in most states that allow the Mega Millions game, plus Washington, D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The cut off is earlier in some states, so check with your local stores.

If you live in Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina or North Dakota, you can buy a Mega Millions ticket online if you have registered with the lotteries of those states, according to the Mega Millions website. If you live in New Hampshire, New York, or Virginia, you can purchase a subscription for Mega Millions online.

Otherwise, head over to your local convenience store or supermarket to pick your lucky numbers in person.

What are the odds of winning the Mega Millions jackpot?

Not great. The odds were 302,575,350 to 1 as of Thursday, according to Chris O’Byrne, a management information systems lecturer at San Diego State University.

“There’s over 300 million people in the United States,” O’Byrne said. “Obviously you have to play in the game to win, but if you think about it in that aspect it’s like picking the right person in the entire United States.”

Why do people play, then? Even when the odds are low, it’s all about hope.

“It’s the lure that you can change with one stroke of luck,” O’Byrne said. “It’s that you can change your future, possibly, with $2.”

The $1 billion Mega Millions jackpot will be up for grabs Friday night, after ballooning from $868 million Wednesday morning. Do you think you have the lucky numbers? USA TODAY answers your questions about the historic lottery drawing.

Mega Millions Cutoff Time: How Late Can You Buy Lottery Tickets Before Friday’s $1 Billion Drawing?

With a little, or a lot, of luck, someone will be crowned the big winner of the Mega Millions lottery and the $1 billion jackpot. As the drawing nears, it’s natural for people to rush to buy tickets, but there is a cutoff time for people taking their shot at becoming wealthy beyond their imagination.

In many states, eligible tickets are sold until 15 minutes before the drawing takes place. The drawing for Mega Millions will occur at 11 p.m. EDT on Friday, so, if you live in an eligible state on the East Coast, you have to purchase your ticket by 10:45 p.m EDT. If you’re in Central Time Zone, that means 9:45 p.m. CDT. The West Coast should have their tickets in hand by 7:45 p.m PDT.

However, there are exceptions to this time limit, so it’s best to check the rules in your own state. For example, in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, the cutoff is 9:50 p.m. EDT on the day of the drawing.

After a series of drawings during which no one hit big, the Mega Millions reached a whopping $1 billion with a cash option of $565 million on Friday. The massive prize is the second-largest pot of cash in United States lottery history.

To take a shot at winning the life-changing prize money, a person over the age of 18 needs to purchase a ticket for two dollars with the option to guess the Megaplier for an extra dollar. Tickets are sold at a variety of establishments, including convenience stores, gas stations and newspaper stands.

There are two ways a person can select their numbers, either by choosing specific numbers or through random selection. If there is a set of lucky numbers the person wants to play, they select five different numbers ranging from one to 70 and one number ranging from one to 25. If the person wants to leave it up to the computer to decide their fate, they can select the Easy Pick/Quick Pick option and have numbers generated for them.

There are nine ways a person can win the Mega Million lottery, ranging from the top prize down to the cost of their ticket:

  • 5 numbers + gold Mega Ball match = Jackpot
  • 5 numbers + no gold Mega Ball match = $1,000,000
  • 4 numbers + gold Mega Ball match = $10,000
  • 4 numbers + no gold Mega Ball match = $500
  • 3 numbers + gold Mega Ball match = $200
  • 3 numbers + no gold Mega Ball match = $10
  • 2 numbers + gold ball match = $10
  • 1 number + gold ball match = $4
  • 0 numbers + gold ball match = $2

Winners have two choices for claiming their prize, either in an immediate payment followed by 29 subsequent payments, or in one lump sum of cash.

While not as high as the Mega Millions prize, also on the line this weekend is the $470 million prize attached to the Power Ball. The drawing for the Power Ball will take place on Saturday evening.

The $1 billion drawing has a cash payout option of more than $500 million.