Lottery officials warn of Mega Millions scam

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Lottery officials say scammers are targeting people through email saying they may have won $1 million and they are using the Mega Millions logo as part of their letterhead to make it look legitimate. The previous largest Mega Millions jackpot - $656 million - was split by by winners in Kansas, Illinois and Maryland in 2012.

The Mega Millions jackpot just hit a record $US970 million ($1.4 billion), the second-largest United States lottery pool ever, trailing only the $US1.59 billion Powerball prize in 2016.

The Mega Millions jackpot is now up to $970 million.

The odds of winning the Mega Millions jackpot are one in 302,575,350.

Excitement over the Mega Millions record has attracted attention from those who do not ordinarily buy tickets.

This can get complicated, but for the most part winners pay taxes where they bought the ticket and then can get a credit on their taxes in their home state. A victor could claim that prize as soon as Friday night, when the next drawing is held. About half of that would go to taxes. "Our obsession with lotteries, with gambling, is that unicorn feeling of, like, 'maybe it'll be me, '" Schlesinger said. The result: larger prizes and increased odds.

Lottery officials recommend winners take a deep breath, put their winning ticket in a safe spot, and consult with a reputable financial planner before popping over to the lottery headquarters.

Of course, more players means a greater chance of splitting the jackpot, and, "If you don't have a ticket, you have zero chance of winning".

He calls these gamblers "infrequent players", and their participation helps boost jackpots to historic levels, he said. Odds are based on the amount of numbers you can choose and the number of combinations available.

KDKA money editor Jon Delano admits he nearly never buys lottery tickets.

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