Kelly Clark buys 10 Mega Millions lottery tickets at Safeway on Evergreen Way in Everett. Clark said she’s an off-and-on lotto player who also participates in her office pool. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Kelly Clark buys 10 Mega Millions lottery tickets at Safeway on Evergreen Way in Everett. Clark said she’s an off-and-on lotto player who also participates in her office pool. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Got your $2 ticket? Mega Millions jackpot is $1.28 billion, for now

Odds are 1 in 303 million to win the jackpot. Dreaming about it is priceless.

EVERETT — Mega Millions is a mega billion.

Friday’s jackpot is $1.28 billion, the second highest in the game’s 20-year history. Odds are 1 in 303 million to win, but dreaming about it is priceless.

Tickets are $2 for a chance to be a billionaire.

Jose Velazquez, 44, owner of a local plumbing business, bought 20 chances on Wednesday at the Chevron station at Rucker Avenue and 41st Street in Everett.

“If you don’t play, you don’t win,” he said. “You can win or you can lose. It’s a risk.”

He was feeling lucky, and if things work in his favor, Velazquez has a plan.

“I would pay off my debt, buy more houses to invest in, provide a donation to our church and then take care of my parents and my brothers and sisters,” he said.

Top jackpot in the multi-state lottery’s history was $1.537 billion in October 2018, won in South Carolina. In 2016, a Washington resident won a $157 million Mega Millions jackpot on a quick-pick ticket from a Seattle 7-Eleven. Half of the proceeds from ticket sales remain in the state where sold.

High jackpots lead to FOMO, fear of missing out, as office pools are formed. Even those who never play get caught in the frenzy and slide $2 into the ticket machine.

People wait in line at an Everett Safeway store to buy Mega Millions tickets as the millions sign above the lotto machine reads “999” despite the payout now being over $1.1 billion. The sign does not go over three numbers, a worker explained. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

People wait in line at an Everett Safeway store to buy Mega Millions tickets as the millions sign above the lotto machine reads “999” despite the payout now being over $1.1 billion. The sign does not go over three numbers, a worker explained. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Chevron station manager Sam Soliman expects Friday to be bustling with people willing to take their chances.

“Since the numbers start going up, people buy it like crazy,” he said.

But not him.

“I don’t play,” Soliman said.

The drawing is in Atlanta, Georgia, at 8 p.m. Pacific Time on Friday, with the machine cutoff to buy tickets at 7:45 p.m.

Don’t wait until the last minute. Lines are already forming at ticket machines.

To get in the hype here’s how to test your luck: Pick five numbers between 1 to 70 and one Mega Ball number from 1 to 25. Fill in the little circles on the pink play-slip or have the computer do the work.

If you match the five numbers drawn but not the Mega Ball, the prize is $1 million. Odds for that: 1 in 12 million.

Match the Mega Ball and nothing else and win your $2 back. Then, quit while you’re even — or not.

The winner in Friday’s drawing can take a lump sum of over $747 million. That’s before the IRS takes a mandatory 24% right off the bat.

To get every cent (128 billion pennies), take it as an annuity over 30 years, paid out as one immediate payment followed by 29 annually.

If you win, hang onto that little slip of paper for dear life or hide it. Lottery tickets are bearer instruments. Unless signed, anyone in possession of the ticket can cash in.

Herald high school interns Ann Duan and Jacqueline Shaner contributed to this story.

Andrea Brown: 425-339-3443; abrown@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @reporterbrown.

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