The draw for the biggest lottery jackpot in world history took place Friday night place, as Americans bought 1.5 billion Mega Millions tickets in the hope of landing the $640 million prize.
The numbers drawn on Friday night were 2, 4, 23, 38, 46, Mega Ball 23.
Forty-two states took part in the draw.
It emerged two hours after the draw that at least one person will lay his hands on the jackpot, as an official from the Maryland lottery announced that a winning ticket had been bought in Baltimore County.
Earlier, queues snaked out of shops from coast to coast with some punters snapping up tickets by the bushel.
The prize money has been swelling since 24 January, with no winner matching all five numbers in the last 18 draws.
The prize had stood at $ 540 million before Friday’s announcement. Lottery officials earlier estimated that customers would have spent some $1.5 billion on tickets by the time of the draw.
A jackpot winner could choose between receiving the full amount of $640 million in 26 annual payments (more than $24 million a year) or an instant cash option of more than $460 million.
The largest jackpot to be paid out until now was a $390 million Mega Millions prize that was split between two winners in 2007.
One hopeful ticket-buyer, Allsaints Macauley, a 64-year-old taxi driver in Washington DC, said if he won he would drive his vehicle to one of the capital’s busiest intersections and leave it behind to be towed away.
“I’d skip town with my children to a place where the temperature will not go below 86 [F] and just hang out.
“The guys on Wall Street invest my trust, so my kids will never have to drive a cab or wash dishes like I did.”
Also in the queue was Mike Notarangelo, 52, unemployed, who said: “I’d set up my daughter, take care of my parents, and choose some charities to get some of the money.
“After that, I would travel the world. See all those places I’ve never been to.”
In California, some shops have been experiencing a ticket-buying frenzy, after lottery officials in the Golden State revealed which outlets have previously sold the most winning tickets.
Ryan King, a 33-year-old construction worker, told the Los Angeles Times: “I’ve already spent the money in my head, 300 times.”
The Las Vegas Sun reports that people have been driving to a shop on Nevada’s border with California to buy tickets.
Some $2,600 of tickets were sold to one buyer at a cafe in the state of Arizona, reports the Associated Press.
Even the relatively wealthy have apparently not been immune to the lottery bug.
NBA basketball player Chris Singleton, who earns a reported $1.5m playing for the Washington Wizards, said on Twitter that he planned to splurge $10,000 on tickets.
The Kansas City Star that the winnings could buy a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, a private island near Phuket, Thailand, or a fleet of 200 Bugatti sports cars.
But the odds are stacked overwhelmingly against any one person matching the six-ball jackpot.
Lottery officials say the chance of winning is just one-in-176 million. Tickets cost $1.
Mathematics professor Mike Catalano of Dakota Wesleyan University told the Associated Press news agency: “You are about 50 times as likely to get struck by lightning as to win the lottery, based on the 90 people a year getting struck by lightning.”
Based on other US averages, a person is 8,000 times more likely to be murdered, or 20,000 times more likely to die in a car accident than to win the lottery, he added.
The states of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Alaska, Hawaii, Wyoming, Utah and Nevada are not participating in the draw.