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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Filed under: Lotto
soundoff (378 Responses)
  1. Scott

    Why $540MM? ... Why not pick 540 winners to each get $1MM??

    March 29, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kana

      because you have to have the correct numbers on your ticket.
      It's called a lottery and not welfare,

      March 29, 2012 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Semper fi

    A lot of Clean water wells and mosquito nets come to mind. A lot of fed children. A lot of vaccines. And one very nice Sailboat for me. A wooden Ketch about 54'.

    March 29, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • mike

      1 pharma drug costs $800million to make. but, im being literal. i like where your mind is though!!

      March 29, 2012 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Dade Man

    I won 1.7mm in 2003 florida lotto. After taxes and other fees, netted only 948k. I invested in offshore projects, made back three times what I paid in taxes and put it all back in offshore accts. My annual take just in the interest is enough to live on and I still have a large principal. I wanted to invest in US projects, unfortunatly I would have been taxed to death and would be broke now.

    March 29, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve2

      Taxed to death? Really, the capital gains rate is 15%. Maybe you should have just hired a good accountant.

      March 29, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  4. BCW - NYC

    I will help my family first and then set up a foundation to help children living in poverty in the US and other countries. Many of those children only need the basic such as clean water, food, shelters and education. I cannot take all the $$ to my grave; why not make a difference in others lives who are desperately need help.

    March 29, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Stan

    Just imagine if supercomputers could analyze which combination hadn't been bought and their machine just made it look like numbers came up randomly. That'd be pretty profitable for the Mega Millions folks. Tight secret to keep though. 🙂

    March 29, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • T-Rex

      That's exactly what they do. However, I know a guy who works there and he will give me the number, so I'm going to buy it right before the deadline!

      March 29, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
  6. elflander

    Rather than buy a lottery ticket, I am going out in my yard donning a catcher's mitt in case large diamonds should happen to fall from the sky. I stand a better chance with those odds than with the lottery.

    March 29, 2012 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • GBG

      Actually you don't. Someone will eventually win the lottery while you're still waiting for that diamond. The time is also important to point out. Since you will waste your hourly worth looking up into the sky, you will be forfeiting a lot more than the $1 I shall spend on my lottery ticket....or then again maybe your time is worth that little?

      March 29, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Sunflower48

    I know...Like I know...Like I know....That it's on it's way to me now!.. Thank You!... 🙂

    March 29, 2012 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Angela Kim

    You know, we never buy lotto tickets...but this jackpot is too big to not play at least one chance.
    So, saying that, my husband and I are going to have beginners luck and win the jackpot tomorrow night.
    We are going to be sofa king rich! We're going to help so many people.

    March 29, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bootcrush

      And i hope you don't win...

      March 29, 2012 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
  9. T-Rex

    I panhandled for $10 and used that money to buy tickets. I think I have a pretty good chance to win too!

    March 29, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
  10. jim

    Lump sum of 389 million. What is that after taxes, about two million.

    March 29, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Taxes

      Federal tax would be 30% of that (roughly 100 Million) and state tax ranges anywhere from 0-10% (4% here in Colorado), so after tax with the lump sum option(389 Million) you would have about 250 Million.

      March 29, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bootcrush

      lol governments are criminals

      March 29, 2012 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Salsa Rider

    The odds of me winning are better than the odds of me buying a ticket!

    March 29, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • GBG

      But there will be one person who will win because they bought a ticket. Think that person will regret the purchase?

      March 29, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Dade Man

    Everyone who buys a ticket has an equal chance to win

    March 29, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Scott

    The thing is at a jackpot this high, the expected payout of a winning ticket actually rises to above the $1 per ticket up to $1.05. Statistically it makes sense to purchase

    March 29, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Johnjon

    If I won, I'd keep my mouth shut as long as possible.

    March 29, 2012 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • GBG

      I'd want the money in the bank/investments as quickly as possible. Hate to quit the job just to find out I misread a number..

      March 29, 2012 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Sofa King Rich

    I'm going to give everyone $1,000 who friends me on Facebook!

    March 29, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Josh

      Why not just buy Facebook?

      March 29, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
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