Winning numbers drawn for $1B Mega Millions jackpot

Jacksonville-area stores crowded with ticket buyers ahead of drawing

By Corley Peel - Reporter, Brittany Muller - Reporter, Associated Press

The Mega Millions jackpot has soared to an estimated $1 billion, as the second-largest lottery prize in U.S. lottery history gets even bigger.

The winning numbers were drawn Friday night: 

15-23-53-65-70
MEGA: 7

Lottery officials increased the grand prize just hours ahead of the Friday night drawing. The prize climbed from $970 million.

Although the jackpot keeps increasing, the odds of winning remain stuck at a miserable 1 in 302.5 million.

The prize has grown so large because no one has hit the jackpot since July 24, when a group in California won $543 million.

The $1 billion prize refers to the annuity option. Most winners opt for cash, which for Friday night's drawing would be $565 million.

On Friday, customers lined up inside Dunn Food Store in Jacksonville, waiting to buy a ticket.

"Hoping for a big win and millions of dollars," said Laprinzo Banks, who bought a Mega Millions ticket. 

The convenience store has sold winning tickets in the past, including a $1 million scratch-off ticket in March. 

In St. Augustine, people crowded the Shell gas station on Ponce de Leon Boulevard as they bought tickets.

WATCH: Locals try their luck at a local gas station that has won big before |
Winning numbers drawn for Mega Millions jackpot

"Never hurts to try," said Earl Harper, who bought a Mega Millions ticket. "That lucky one ticket may be the one."

The store has also been lucky for lottery winners in the past. Last year, a woman claimed a $1 million scratch-off prize. The employee who handed her the winning ticket told News4Jax a lot of people choose to buy lottery tickets at the Shell station because of its lucky tickets. 

"I think people be winning up here, so I think this is the spot," said Tavis Mitchell, who bought a Mega Millions ticket.

Mehrle Smith also purchased a ticket at the store. He said that, if he wins, he will donate the money to charity and help his family. Although the chance of winning is a long shot, he's hoping the odds are in his favor.

"They say you’re more likely to get struck by lightning, but it happens every day so why not take a chance?" Smith said. 

Officials say that if there isn't a winner, the prize for Tuesday night's drawing would be $1.6 billion, tying the largest U.S. lottery prize.

Copyright 2018 by WJXT News4Jax. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.