Record $500M Mega Millions jackpot sends city into frenzy

Lenny, 54 buys lottery tickets at AK Variety

Lenny, 54 buys lottery tickets at AK Variety Store in Midtown Manhattan. (Tiffany L. Clark) (Credit: Lenny, 54 buys lottery tickets at AK Variety Store in Midtown Manhattan. (Tiffany L. Clark))

New York has gone crazy for Mega Millions, with the drawing for the largest jackpot ever just a day away.

The $1-per-ticket lottery has reached a world-record pot of $500 million, sending city dwellers into a frenzy, scooping up tickets and daydreaming about a life of luxury - #IfIWonTheMegaMillions was even trending for hours on Twitter last night.

The drawing is set for tomorrow, and some New Yorkers are already planning what they would do with such a monumental fortune.

"I would pay off my debts and help my family, my loved ones," said Nicy Chavez, 48, of Clinton Hill. "I would love to have money, not to splurge, but to see what it's really like to have money."

Christopher Williams, of Jamaica, Queens, said he'd try to help out the economy.

"[I WOULD] expand my company so I could give some people jobs. That's what the country needs right now," he said, adding that he would also "give money to my church."

Donte Brown, 32, of the Lower East Side, has bought a handful of tickets in different states over the past few days. He admitted that even though one's chances of winning are slim, it's easy to get swept up in the craze.

"It's the thrill of the money, and everybody has lotto fever right now because of the amount they're giving away," he said, adding that if he won, he would remember those close to him.

"Everyone says they'll give back to the community, but they forget. I won't," he said.

The current sum has been piling up since the last jackpot winner on Jan. 24 ($72 million), as no one has hit a six-for-six number match. On Tuesday, 47 people nationwide matched five of the six numbers, raking in $250,000 apiece before taxes.

The lottery, played in more than 40 states, has been around since 2002. The current pot of $500 million - or $359 million in a single cash payout without annuity - shatters the previous record set in 2007, when two players in New Jersey and Georgia won the $390 million pot.

But however big the prize, for some New Yorkers, the dream of winning the big one is just that.

"I get all psyched up on the fantasy [OF WINNING], but it's a waste of energy," said Sharon Lawrence, 41, of Park Slope.

"It's like getting dumped by a boyfriend every time I find out I didn't win."

(with Rachel Hawatmeh)

Tags: News , Mega Millions , Tim Herrera , Sheila Anne Feeney

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