WASHINGTON, Oct 20 — Scores of American lottery players were disappointed they hadn’t become an overnight billionaire today — but they’ll get another chance to scoop the jackpot, with US$1.6 billion (RM6.7 billion) up for grabs in a few days.

The prize for yesterday’s Mega Millions contest had soared to US$1 billion, prompting long lines at gas stations and 7-11s across the country, the federal capital Washington and the US Virgin Islands where the lottery is held.

But, although there were 15 second-tier winning tickets of at least us$1 million across nine states, nobody won the jackpot — putting the prize for Tuesday’s draw at a record US$1.6 billion.

The previous largest single jackpot of US$758.7 million was won last year by Mavis Wanczyk, a 53-year-old mother of two from Massachusetts.

In 2016, a US$1.58 billion Powerball prize was split three ways by ticket holders from California, Florida and Tennessee. Each took home US$528.8 million. 

The game, which was created in 2002, has seen changes over the years that have reduced the chances of winning, meaning bigger and bigger jackpots.

If someone picks the winning six numbers, they can either claim the jackpot in 30 payments over 30 years — the so-called annuity option — or take a reduced amount in a lump sum. 

On Tuesday, that would mean a total of nearly US$905 million — before taxes, according to the Mega Millions website.

US lottery winnings are taxable at the federal level, unlike in many other countries, while some states also impose local taxes. — AFP