Mississippi’s lottery fever sweeps into Tennessee as jackpot hits $1 billion

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — As lottery fever sweeps the country and the Mid-South, Mississippians are pouring in to Tennessee to get their hands on a ticket.

The Mega Millions jackpot skyrocketed Friday to $1 billion, but since Mississippi doesn't have a state lottery yet, many residents make the trek to Tennessee to buy theirs.

With a dream in their heart and money on their mind, people were lining up Friday at the Amoco Food Stop on Highway 51 at the Mississippi-Tennessee state line, vying for their shot at riches.

"I can't resist it," said Kenny Hayes of Horn Lake, Miss. "I couldn't sleep tonight if I didn't try."

Friday's jackpot is the biggest Mega Millions prize ever, and hopefuls say they already know exactly what they would do if they won.

"I'm going travel and I'm going to leave most of it to my children and grandchildren," said Bobby Taylor of Southaven, Miss.

"My kids, grandkids, their kids, their grandkids. We'd be set 'til the good lord calls us, I think," Hayes said.

The line at the Amoco station was so long all day, people had to wait in their cars for a parking spot to open up.

"Look at the all the revenue it'd take — look at this," Hayes said. "It's a shame we're missing that in Mississippi. And it's not hurting anybody."

Mississippi is a little bit closer to a state lottery, however.

The governor has appointed five people to the state's lottery corporation board of directors, which will oversee the creation and operation of a lottery after legislation was passed in August.

That process could take up to a year.

Taylor said he drove up to Tennessee from Southaven to try his luck, with no strategy or special numbers in mind — just a whole lot of hope.

"I had thought about it, but I said, 'I'll just let fate take the place,'" he said.

The chances of winning the jackpot aren't good – the odds are one in about 303 million. In fact, you're statistically more likely to be eaten by a shark or hit by a meteorite.

But that's not stopping folks from trying.

"If I don't win, there's nothing lost," Taylor said. "If I do win, it could change my life."

The drawing will air Friday at 10 p.m. on News Channel 3.