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. pumpkinseeds

    Me and my co-workers pool our money and buy tickets. We haven't had much luck. I hope we win. I can't wait to start helping family and friends. I'll pay off mortgages, buy them new cars, send them on a dream vacations and set up college trust funds for their children. That's half the fun of winning all that money....is helping others. Wish us luck!

    March 29, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Journeyone

    Someone needs to win and it only takes one ticket

    March 29, 2012 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
  3. a tax on the mathematically challanged

    The odds of winning the megamillions is 1 in 176 Million.

    March 29, 2012 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
  4. CullThePopulace

    I would dispense aid and help – worldwide – in an effort to make life 'better' for people, animals and the planet.
    Some ideas:

    1- Potable, fresh drinking water for indigenous populations that have no access to it

    2- Stop wild game poaching for the black market trade; protection of endangered species

    3- Provide aid for orphanages – globally

    4- Fund the ongoing quest for better, renewable energy alternatives

    5- Fundraising, aid, support for NWF, WWF, ASPCA, HSUS, et al

    ... and I'd buy a place in Switzerland

    March 29, 2012 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • vince mcmahon

      thank you for supporting the WWF, i will send brett the hit man heart over as a present

      March 29, 2012 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Alan

    if it keeps going up like this, we can just use the lotto to pay off the national debt!

    March 29, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Samuel R. Preston, III

    If I win I'm going to legally change my name to Mr. Kiss My Ass

    March 29, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • jtainfla

      ATTABOY!! ME TOO !!

      March 29, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Allio

    My boyfriend and I are building a 50,000 fish tank and swimming with the sharks!

    March 29, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      Please be kind and hand me your ticket before you do that, I’ll give you back the ticket if you guys make it out

      March 29, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Derrick

    This is good and scary at the same time.

    Type DerrickDuffie into your web browser to visit my website and learn about my new novel, Unfinished Business.

    March 29, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Bootcrush

    If i win i will buy CNN and then fire all of you..Monkeys can do a better job

    March 29, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  10. a tax on the mathematically challanged

    the earth is 25,000 miles or about 133 million feet around. Pick 9 inches along the earths equator. That is 1 in 176 Million.

    March 29, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • a tax on the mathematically challanged

      Maybe you pick a 9 inch stretch of dirt in columbia, or the congo, or 9 inches of the pacific, or 9 inches of the indian ocean, or 9 inches of the atlantic. That is 1 in 176 million.

      March 29, 2012 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Bootcrush

    Have already quit my job ..Can't wait to cash in my millions by Saturday morning woot woot

    March 29, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
  12. a tax on the mathematically challanged

    Take a 6 year long period of time. Pick 1 second, one instant second. That is 1 in 176 Million.

    March 29, 2012 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Nitecat1

    Oh boy!!!

    March 29, 2012 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Sam

    If we all pool our money, we can buy one of every single ticket combination, split the winnings, and still come out ahead...

    Just saying.

    March 29, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • John Johnson

      Incorrect on so many levels.

      March 29, 2012 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joey B

      Do your math again because you are very wrong.

      March 29, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • fauxhawk70

      Even you did conjure up the money for every winning combo there would not be enough time to print them all out and that would be with the ticket machine running 24/7 for the whole week between the drawings!

      March 29, 2012 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • mycoke

      Assuming you are the only winner

      March 29, 2012 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • whorhay

      True, but the payout ratio would be 1:2-3 before all the taxes and depending on payout method, and that's if your group has the only winning ticket. If some one else picked the same numbers your winnings rapidly shrink and possibly go negative. On top of that you would need a very large group of people to both come up with the money for the tickets and buy all the necesarry tickets in an organized fashion. Basically it wouldn't be worth it. If you already had the $180 million or so dollars it'd take there are much better ways to get a return.

      March 29, 2012 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • blake

      if you do the math correctly, you will see you are wrong....i am just saying

      March 29, 2012 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      But not by much after taxes if the lump sum is taken.

      March 29, 2012 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Innkahoots

    I'm going to build a oil refinery, and double my money in a year....

    March 29, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hinterarsch

      I am going to cash teh check and leave the USA immediately for good.

      March 29, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • fauxhawk70

      I see what you are trying to say here and I have to tell you that I like it!

      March 29, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
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