Tonight, the country will sit silently as they await their fate, hoping that six lucky numbers will change their lives. With the Mega Millions lottery jackpot reaching an unprecedented $640 MILLION, the multistate jackpot is being called the largest lottery jackpot in the world. A whopping 400 million tickets have been sold in the last 48 hours, with some people purchasing hundreds and thousands of tickets at a time. When thinking of the winner, one naturally thinks of the person or people with the winning lottery ticket, however, there are other players who benefit considerably from lottery fever.

Although the chance of winning the grand prize is 1 in 176 million, that hasn’t stopped ticket sale from skyrocketing. According to ABC News, just hours ago, the jackpot was valued at $540 million, but increased $100 million dollars due to overwhelming ticket sales. All across the country, hopefuls have been standing on what seems like never ending lines – some waiting for hours – to purchase their chance at winning over a half billion dollars. With that amount at stake, people like me who rarely, if ever, buy lottery tickets have been coming out woodwork. Whoever wins the jackpot, whether it’s a first-timer or one who plays the lottery daily, they are indeed the biggest winner of the drawing, but you can’t forget about the others who benefit.

Convenience stores throughout the country have been flooded with people purchasing tickets, which is extremely advantageous for the store. First, for each lottery ticket sold, retailers receive 5.5 cents for each $1 ticket sold, 1 percent of every prize they pay at their store, and a cash bonus for selling top prizes ($50,000 for Mega Millions). Also, while purchasing lottery tickets, customers will most likely buy other items such as snacks and beverages at the store as well. Two streams of income per one customer visit – not bad. The state also gains from lottery fever. Once the jackpot winner has come forward, they have the option of receiving their winnings in quarterly payments or in one lump sum. If they choose the lump sum option, which a lot of people do, that will mean millions of dollars in taxes paid instantly to the state. These extra funds could then be allocated to education budgets and parks. So while the state receives additional taxes, it also provides much needed resources to schools and other organizations.

A single lottery ticket owner has a greater chance at being struck by lightning than winning tonight’s jackpot. Those odds would make one think twice before buying thousands of tickets, but people seem to be extremely optimistic. If they don’t possess that winning lottery ticket, at least they can rest knowing that part of that money will be put to good use.
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Victoria Baston

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