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. Ayn Rand

    And a new hat

    March 29, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Joe68

    You already won part of that Jackpot. The taxes collected on the whole sum will go to the people in the form of roads, military, education and, if the Supreme Court allows, your health too.

    March 29, 2012 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michael Brown

      Or to pay for some government official's vacation...

      March 29, 2012 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
  3. EABOD

    The lottery: a tax on people with poor math skills.

    March 29, 2012 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Luminus

      ...except for those who win.

      March 29, 2012 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Larry

      Hell, just a $1 ticket for a chance at half a billion dollars is good enough math for me.

      March 29, 2012 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Not Really

      Not if math tells you there's 175,711,536 combinations. At $1/bet, care to spend $175,711,536 to win $540M less taxes?

      March 29, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Dylan

    I've asked Bill Gates to borrow 176 million dollars, I will then play every possible number, thereby guaranteeing my win. I will then take my 300 million after taxes and pay back Billy, leaving me with a 124 million payday.

    I sure hope no one else thought of this.

    March 29, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bryan

      You've obviously assumed no one else would have also purchased the winning ticket. What if you and a big company where 60 people went in on the tickets had the same numbers as you? Then you'd get your share, about $5MM, which would be AWESOME. Except, you now owe Bill Gates $171 million dollars. Have fun with that.

      March 29, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tim

      Problem with buying 176m tickets to guarantee a win.... More than just you win and you split it... Thereby losing money.

      March 29, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • WilltheFree

      You had better hope that no one else has the winning number too, or you might end up with only half the amount and in debt to Mr Gates for a long time 🙂

      March 29, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • SideOfBacon

      and would laugh in anyone's face who does this end there ends up being about 5 winning tickets, taking your winnings down to about $77.8m before taxes. enjoy your $120m LOSS.

      March 29, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • c

      Absolutely hilarious!

      March 29, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • cmack

      Actually I did think of that back when it was 360 million. You just better hope that no one else wins or you may not be able to pay Bill back. I would not want to be you in that situation.

      March 29, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Pat

    If I win the jackpot, I am going to top off the gas tank on my truck and then spend the change on some lunch. That is if the greedy oil companies don't raise the prices any more before the drawing.

    March 29, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Always USAF

    Nice story. But when is the next drawing?

    March 29, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Tinklepants

    I'd donate all of it to bring back Reading Rainbow

    March 29, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Patriot

    If Rupert Murdoch (Fox News) can use his millions to subvert democracy, I would use my millions to put him in jail.

    March 29, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
  9. rudix

    a good tip for the numbers you can get in the sensational book at wwwTheDimensionMachineDDTcom

    March 29, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
  10. steve

    if a company with 60 people bought a ticket, they would only split HALF and the other half would go to the person who bought the other ticket... the company does not buy 60 seperate tickets with the same number

    March 29, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • 60minuteman

      The company is a "person", too, so the company would get half, and the 60 employees would split the other half.

      March 29, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Thank you

      Thank you!!! @Bryan....your stupidity amazes me!!!

      March 29, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  11. c

    If I won that money I would buy George Clooney from that skinny butt women!!!

    March 29, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Read the Article!

    Um.... if you actually READ the article, you might see it in the very first sentence!

    March 29, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  13. 60minuteman

    When I win that money, I can be friends with Mitt Romney.

    March 29, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
  14. cuace

    I can't even imagine what the jackpot will grow to if nobody wins it on Friday.
    It jumped from $363 million to $540 million this time. And if nobody wins it Friday, there will be an extra day of sales before next Tuesday's drawing. You're looking at a jackpot of AT LEAST $700 million (close to $500 million if you take the cash option).

    March 29, 2012 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  15. coolbreeze

    If I hit the jackpot: I'll change my name, give the wife half and tell her see ya, I'll be in Cancun Mx but in reality I'll be at the cayman island and then to Ibiza, spain then go to columbia and get one the hottest babe.

    March 29, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Levi

      do your wife a favor and leave now loser. your only staying with her because she pays half the bills then she doesn't need you...

      March 29, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • coolbreeze

      DEAD WRONG> My wife pays all of the bills in exchange I give her lots of pleasure..

      March 29, 2012 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wes

      Good, someone who doesn't appreciate their wife should definitely let them live a happy life instead of a crappy one with them. Why don't you just free your wife now since you obviously don't give a crap about her?

      March 29, 2012 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hank A.

      Maybe you should spend some of that money on English lessons......

      March 29, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
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