Mega Millions $1.28B jackpot lures hopefuls to "lucky" California store

The odds of claiming this week's bonanza Mega Millions prize are less than one in 300 million — but one "lucky" convenience store outside Los Angeles is already counting its winnings as Friday's 11 p.m. EDT drawing approached. A sign above the counter of the otherwise unassuming shop in California's Chino Hills proclaims itself the "LUCKIEST 7-ELEVEN IN THE WORLD," six years after it sold a winning ticket for the largest jackpot in U.S. lottery history.

With the Mega Millions prize now exceeding $1 billion once again, customers from far and wide were lining up Thursday, hoping that lightning will strike twice.

"This is the lucky store, so I'm hoping it becomes lucky for me as well," said Vish Josai.

People buy Mega Millions lottery tickets at a 7-Eleven convenience store in Chino Hills, California, July 28, 2022. / Credit: RINGO CHIU/AFP via Getty Images

As of early Friday afternoon, the prize stands at $1.28 billion with an estimated cash value of $747.2 million, lottery officials said.

Back in January 2016, a winning ticket was purchased at the store by a customer who shared the roughly $1.6 billion with two other lucky people who had also picked the correct six numbers elsewhere in the country.

For store owner Balbir Atwal, who has owned the store for almost three decades, the 2016 win marked a turning point.

Now, "anytime the jackpot goes high, a lot of my neighbors come" to buy tickets, said Atwal. "Even people from other cities come here — people come even from Las Vegas to play here."

"A lot of people travel to Disneyland, and they (also) come here just to see this place," he added, referring to the giant amusement park and resort just 20 miles away from his store.

Customers who have come specifically to buy lottery tickets usually end up buying other goods, too, boosting his profits.

Still, despite his shop's track record in doling out mega-prizes, the digital sign displaying the current jackpot does not have enough numbers to cope.

It remains "stuck" on $999 million.

A few people came very close to winning it all during the most recent drawing on Tuesday. According to Mega Millions, nine tickets matched the first five numbers but didn't match the Mega Ball. The game's Megaplier feature was purchased for one of those tickets, raising its prize to $3 million, while the rest won $1 million.

Giant video screen falls on dancers during Hong Kong pop concert

Air travel refund complaints soared during the pandemic

The next Mega Millions drawing is Friday — with a jackpot of at least $1.1 billion