Six people in Georgia won $250,000, and another 48 won $10,000 --smaller prizes in the record Mega Millions jackpot, lottery officials said.
The Mega Millions jackpot jumped from a world record of $540 million to $640 million for Friday night's drawing. The winning numbers are 46-23-38-4-2. The megaball is 23.
The lucky $250,000 tickets were purchased in Athens, Atlanta, Ellabell, Hendersonville, Marietta and Waco.
The $10,000 tickets were purchased in the following cities: Acworth, Alpharetta (2), Atlanta (3), Augusta (2), Braselton, Brunswick, Carrollton, Cave Spring, Colquitt, Columbus, Conyers, Cumming, Donaldsonville, Duluth, Forest Park, Gainesville (2), Garden City, Hampton, Hartwell, Jesup, Kingsland (2), Lavonia, Lawrenceville, Leesburg, Lilburn, Lyerly, Marietta, Martinez, McDonough, Midway, Newnan, Sandy Springs, Savannah, Stockbridge, Stone Mountain, Tallapoosa (2), Trion, Tucker, Waco and Warner Robins (2).
Lottery ticket-holders in Illinois, Kansas and Maryland also got lucky in the drawing, as reported by the Associated Press Saturday morning.
Illinois' winning ticket was sold in the small town of Red Bud, near St. Louis, and the winner used a quick pick to select the numbers, Illinois Lottery spokesman Mike Lang said. The Maryland Lottery said it sold a winning ticket at a retail store in Baltimore County.
A winning ticket also was purchased in northeast Kansas, according to the Kansas Lottery website.
Each winning ticket was expected to be worth more than $213 million before taxes, Lang said.
In Atlanta, Channel 2 Action News caught up with residents vying for a portion of the winnings.
"One dollar probably can bring me back half a billion," said Ian Lumpkin, as he purchased his ticket at the Marathon gas station on East College Avenue in Decatur.
"If you don't play, you don't win, so you have to take your chances," said another customer, Gerri French.
She bought 10 tickets for herself, and her office pool bought 20.
If she wins, French said, "I would take a deep breath, and try to take it all in and say, 'Pinch me. Is this really happening? Is this really real?'''
A single winning ticket will be paid 26 annual installments of $24.6 million or a lump sum of $462 million before taxes. But the odds of winning are estimated at around 1 in 176 million.
"The fantasy will be over tomorrow evening when someone else wins the money, but until then you get to dream," said Kevin Wyatt, who bought his office pool's numbers.
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Recently, Georgians gained a dubious distinction, according to one study. Bloomberg has generated what it calls a Sucker Index, measuring how much people spend on lottery tickets versus what they actually get. According to Bloomberg, Georgians are No. 1 on the index, meaning worst off in the nation.
"That can be a problem," said Professor James Cox, director of the Experimental Economics Center at Georgia State University.
It is especially a problem in economically depressed areas, where people may not have as much money to play but still do.
The surge in lottery players when the prize goes up is part of the so-called herd mentality, Cox said. No one wants to miss out on the chance to win, so they follow the herd of people buying tickets.
Cox said that’s OK, as long as people realize they are likely buying into a fantasy -- a chance to dream about what one would do with more than half a billion dollars.
"That can well be worth the price of a few lottery tickets, even though as an investment it's probably the worst investment you can make in the whole wide world."
Mega Millions drawings are held at the WSB-TV studios in midtown Atlanta and aired live at 11 p.m. on Tuesdays and Fridays.