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US hopefuls bid to win world's largest lottery jackpot

Veronica Balbas holds her Mega Millions lottery tickets for Friday's draw Photo: Reuters

Excitement is building around the world's largest lottery jackpot - at least $640 million (£400m) - before the Mega Millions draw on Friday in Atlanta.

Buyers lined up this week in 42 US states to buy $1 tickets for the Mega Millions lottery. If several people win, winnings will be split equally.

If a single ticket matches all six winning numbers, the player would receive either a one-off payment or the full jackpot in 26 annual instalments.

Odds of winning are 175 million-to-1, said Margaret DeFrancisco, president and chief executive of the Georgia Lottery Corporation.

"There is a tremendous amount of buzz and excitement," DeFrancisco said.

The previous largest Mega Millions jackpot was $390 million (£244m) in 2007, and was split between two ticket holders in Georgia and New Jersey.

It will be early Saturday morning before lottery officials verify whether there are any winning tickets.

About half the lottery money is paid out to ticket holders in the form of winnings, 35%

to state governments and 15% to retailer commissions and lottery operating expenses.

If there is no winner Friday night, lottery officials are considering moving the next draw to Times Square in New York City as the anticipation and the jackpot build, DeFrancisco said. "It's the world stage," she said.

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