Two lottery jackpots have Coast residents heading to the borders

People in South Mississippi are cranking up the car heater and heading for the border, dreaming on the ride to Louisiana or Florida what they’ll do with the money if they win the $440 million Powerball jackpot or $343 million Mega Millions drawing this week.

The Powerball drawing is Wednesday for what will be the ninth largest jackpot in Powerball history. The jackpot will continue to grow and currently has a $278.3 million cash value.

Mississippi’s Legislature is conducting a study to decide whether to legalize a lottery in the state. The Legislature may take up the issue in the 2018 session.

Since the lottery isn’t legal in Mississippi, many people drive to Slidell, Louisiana, to get their tickets. Nobody won Saturday’s drawing, but 2.2 million people won nearly $19 million in non-jackpot prizes. That includes 5 ticket holders in Iowa, New Hampshire and New Jersey who matched 5 numbers for $1 million.

Last January, people from the Coast were driving to get tickets for the $929.9 million jackpot. Three winners finally hit for a lump sum payout of $187.2 million each.

This week they’ll also be putting cash down on the Mega Millions for a jackpot that has soared to $343 million, the eight largest in Mega Millions history. It has a $215 million cash option and the drawing is Tuesday evening.

One ticket, which was sold in Florida, matched the five white balls to win $1 million on Friday.

The last time anyone won was on Oct. 13, when Mega Millions winners in Michigan and Rhode Island shared the $42 million drawing.

Lottery officials said six Mega Million jackpots were won in 2017. The others were in New York ($105 million on September 22), Illinois ($393 million on August 11), Arkansas ($177 million on March 31) and California ($191 million on January 27 and $61 million on April 28).

In the 15-year history of Mega Million, four jackpots were won in the first week of the year.