March 29th, 2012
12:17 PM ET

Mega Millions jackpot now at $640 million

[Update on Friday] The estimated jackpot for Friday's Mega Millions drawing has risen to $640 million, lottery officials said Friday.

[Posted at 1:57 p.m. ET Thursday] The estimated jackpot for Friday night's Mega Millions drawing rose Thursday to $540 million, extending what Mega Millions officials say already was going to be a world record for lottery jackpots.

Friday's jackpot initially was estimated at $476 million, and then $500 million, but stronger-than-anticipated sales nationwide have helped push up the figure, lottery officials said.

The previous world record for a single jackpot, according to Mega Millions officials, was that game's $390 million prize in a March 6, 2007, drawing. That jackpot was split by winners in Georgia and New Jersey.

The growing jackpot has drawn plenty of interest from would-be millionaires.

In Texas, one of the 42 states where Mega Millions is played, 482,763 standard $1 tickets that is, tickets without the extra $1 Megaplier option were sold from 11 a.m. to noon on Thursday, said Kelly Cripe, spokeswoman for the Texas Lottery Commission. In the same hour a day earlier, 143,605 tickets were told in Texas, Cripe said.

Mega Millions officials predict that $396 million in tickets will be sold nationwide from Wednesday through Friday's drawing, Cripe said. The estimate includes actual sales from Wednesday.

On Wednesday, lottery officials in Virginia estimated that the number of tickets sold in that state on Friday alone would be more than four times the 1.2 million tickets sold in Virginia on a Friday two weeks earlier, when the jackpot was $200 million.

"Sales are very, very strong in Virginia. It looks like we're seeing a lot more people who don't normally play want to get in the game," Virginia Lottery spokesman John Hagerty said Wednesday afternoon.

Friday's $540 million prize would be payable as an annuity over 26 years. If a winner prefers, he or she could choose a one-time, lump-sum payment, which in this case would be $389 million. Both figures are before taxes.

Friday's jackpot rolled over from Tuesday's drawing for a $363 million prize, which no one won. The prize has been building since January 24, when a Georgia woman won a $72 million Mega Millions drawing.

The biggest single-ticket win in the other nationwide lottery, Powerball, was in February 2006 when a ticket held by eight workers at a Nebraska food plant paid a $365 million jackpot.

Mega Millions is played in 42 states plus the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

A jackpot-winning ticket must match all five numbers drawn from a pot containing 56 balls and then match the Mega Ball, which is drawn from a pot containing 46 numbers. Odds of winning are almost 176 million to 1. Each regular ticket costs $1.

Jackpots start at $12 million and rise for subsequent drawings when jackpot-winning tickets aren't sold.

iReport.com: What would you do with $500 million?

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soundoff (378 Responses)
  1. Bob

    Where's the comments? Only two and a reply are showing!?!?!

    March 30, 2012 at 8:47 am | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Franklin

    How could our governments, local, state and federal governments be broke when they get the absolute lions share of this money, even the winner still pays enormous taxes. How could the lottery possibly be good for the american people. Oh...you say it gives people hope, that is true for the majority but there are many many people that spend all their money on these tickets, to the point of not feeding their children or making their house payments. Those hurt the most are minorities and the the poor. The government should not be in the gambling, alcohol or any other business. This is a fools game run by idiots that hurts millions!

    March 30, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • why?

      People have the freedom to do with their money what they want. It's sad when parents aren't taking care of their kids, but it's not the lottery's fault. You're blowing off steam on the wrong issue here!

      March 30, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • KLiv

      By the same token, cigarettes, all forms of alcohol, fast food, soda, and technology should all be outlawed. We all know idiots who go broke spending all of their money on these things. Just because some people are stupid does not mean that we should get rid of the lottery. The monies are spent on budget items that would otherwise have to be through higher taxes. And as to how the governments are still broke, governments have budgets in the millions/billions. When 42 states share in the revenue, it isn't as much as you would believe. Look at a state budget. Compare that to how much revenue the lottery gives each state, and then answer your question. Do some research before you spout off.

      March 31, 2012 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
  3. Azizul chowdhury

    I am Florida can I play mega million?

    March 30, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Azizul chowdhury

    Can I play mega million online?

    March 30, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Azizul chowdhury

    I just want to play.

    March 30, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. UNI FAN

    I won!!!

    March 30, 2012 at 11:10 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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