Danielle Hyatt, 27, of Wantagh, holds two Mega Millions tickets she...

Danielle Hyatt, 27, of Wantagh, holds two Mega Millions tickets she hopes will unlock Friday's jackpot, estimated to be $1.02 billion. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Danielle Hyatt arrived Wednesday morning at Cori’s Lucky Lotto Store in Wantagh and dreamed of everything she could do with a billion dollars.

Like so many others who flocked to the Wantagh Avenue store Wednesday, Hyatt, 27, was there with hopes it lives up to its name.

She bought two Mega Millions quick pick tickets, waved them in the air and hoped, again, that one combination of the numbers might unlock the $1.02 billion jackpot in Friday night’s drawing.

“This is my lucky store,” Hyatt said. “I'm hoping to win.”

What to know

  • Friday's Mega Millions jackpot is estimated to be $1.02 billion.
  • The cash option after taxes is projected to be $602.5 million.
  • It's the third-largest jackpot in Mega Millions history, with odds of winning the total prize just 1 in 302.5 million.

The jackpot crossed the billion-dollar mark after there were no winners in Tuesday's drawing for $830 million. Two $1 million winning tickets were sold, including a ticket sold on Staten Island. The cash option of collecting the Friday jackpot after taxes is projected to be $602.5 million and is the third-largest in Mega Millions history.

Hyatt said she usually only plays when the jackpot climbs above $600 million. Even then, she said, only after some prodding from her mom.

If luck breaks her way, she won't have to play anymore.

“Everyone has a chance, and these are my lucky numbers,” Hyatt said. “I’d like to take care of my family and have enough to live comfortably. Maybe I could travel the world and give back to the community."

The odds of winning the total prize are long — 1 in 302.5 million.

Dipak Patel has owned the Wantagh lotto and convenience store for 20 years. He said he began selling tickets at 6 a.m. and saw customers buying up to $500 in tickets at a time for Friday’s drawing.

Even with a steady number of customers buying tickets Wednesday, Patel said, business is likely to pick up as the time gets closer to the drawing.

“Today is a little down. People keep playing and Friday is going to be extremely busy,” Patel said. “I want to keep selling more tickets to customers and I hope someone wins in my store.”

Patel said he has sold several second-place tickets and winning scratch-offs.

“More people come and they know we're a lucky store,” Patel said. “If you sell more tickets, there’s more chances to win.”

Laura Vogel, 76, of Wantagh, said she came to buy a ticket Wednesday morning after hearing there was no winner. If she wins, Vogel said, she'll give the money to charity. She is battling cancer and can no longer travel.

“I know money is the root of all evil and I don’t know much how I could spend,” Vogel said. “Charity organizations need it much more to do their missions.”

In Freeport, Bah Sun Allah, 54, was buying a single ticket from the Omni Smoke Shop on Sunrise Highway.

“Hopefully that's the winning ticket," Allah, said, "if it's meant to be."

Allah fantasized about making a return trip to Cabo San Lucas in Baja, Mexico, buying houses around the world and making sure he spent some of the winnings on friends and family.

“These days, athletes get billions of dollars, so why not me?” he said.

If he wins $1 billion, said David Jemmott, 53, of Wantagh, "I’d have the biggest party and take care of my friends and family and then disappear to an island to live carefree."

But even while living on the blue water and sipping cocktails, Jemmott admitted, he’d share the wealth.

“I’d give it to anyone who has been kind to me and I’d be kind in turn,” Jemmott sad. “A lot of people need help and I don't need all the money to myself.”

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