Lottery sales soar as Mega Millions jackpot hits record $1.6 billion

"Nightline" takes a look at the nationwide craze around the record-breaking prize and examines the cautionary tales of several past lotto winners.
4:16 | 10/23/18

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Transcript for Lottery sales soar as Mega Millions jackpot hits record $1.6 billion
Reporter: It's official. The lottery bug has bitten America. And temperatures are reaching a fever pitch. We are participating in a companywide pool. The employees at P.J. Clark's in New York City. Sal is paid. Reporter: Are pooling their money to buy tickets. Somebody from our pool of people wins, everybody gets a piece of the pie. Reporter: Hoping this turns out to be the opportunity of a lifetime. I would get on to a plane and I would go to the Maldives. After paying off my student loans, I will fly probably and go to patagonia. Probably buy a house or an apartment. Reporter: From coast to coast, millions lining up for the chance to win Tuesday's mega millions with $1.6 billion in prize money and a cash option of $904 million, it's a record high, the largest jackpot in history. It's been insane, but everybody is looking to win a little piece of the pie. Reporter: That means before taxes a single winner could join the ranges of celebrity fortunes like kylie Jenner and George Clooney overnight. We have 25 mega ball numbers you choose from. Reporter: We went to the studio in Atlanta where they are preparing for someone's monumental wins. For those who say now this game is too hard, I wish it wasn't this hard, what do you say to them? Someone is going to win, and why not it be you? $1 billion. Reporter: Live on television, what's going through your mind? Really that somebody's life is going to change, like this is a record-breaking jackpot, and it's exciting to know that I'm calling numbers that can change somebody's life. Reporter: It's the biggest jackpot in history for a reason. Mega millions re-tweaked their formula last year so that it would be even harder for people to win. And why are these jackpots so huge, because a lot of people are looking at this, oh, my gosh, never seen this kind of money before. Well, the matrix has been changed about a year ago. We heard from hour players who were interested in large jackpots. Reporter: That means eye-popping cash prizes, but a lower chance of actually winning. In order for the jackpot to get to 1.5 or higher billion, you have to have 25 consecutive mega millions drawings that do not have a winner and that's very hard to do so they re-tweaked the odds and cranked it up so it was a 1 in 300 million chance of winning. Reporter: It means you have a better chance of sainthood or have you quadruples than becoming a lottery winner. Winning big is an outcome most people can only dream about. Having a really bad night as work, thought I might as well check my numbers while I'm sitting here waiting for my lunch and that's when I realized that I was the winner. I didn't believe it. Reporter: Julie leech is among lucky few who can count herself as a big-time lottery winner, won the $310 million for Powerball back in 2015. She hand her boyfriend of 36 years at the time Vaughn Avery were thrilled to win. I said he'd have to sign a pre-nup now. Reporter: It's not always fun and games when it comes to the lottery. Sometimes it has deadly consequences. Deade Moore was found guilty of swindling and killing the $17 million lottery winner Abraham Shakespeare in 2012. The defendant is guilty of first-degree murder. Reporter: An extreme and tragic example of lottery winnings gone wrong. Not only can winning that much money make you a target, but many winners themselves aren't equipped to handle the windfall. The sobering reality is that 70% of all lottery winners will end up in bankruptcy within a couple of years of the win, so I advise my friends, I advise my clients, put it in a trust, protect it. Reporter: And for those who like to play in pools with their friends or colleagues, there are even more steps one should take. The point "A" lottery captain whose job it is to collect the money, buy the tickets, secure the tickets, photocop dethe tickets and everyone who is in the pool should sign that photocopy. Reporter: But after all the daydreaming and taking all the O play and wish for good luck. We've got it the. Good luck, everybody. Reporter: Our thanks to geo,

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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