What would the $540M jackpot buy?
No matter how you look at it, the Mega Millions prize is a whole lot of money.
The Mega Millions jackpot is now officially a world-record-breaking $540 million, and it's bound to get even bigger -- $600 million has been mentioned as a possibility -- before Friday night's drawing. People have lottery fever -- big time.
"It's spiraling out of control," California state lottery spokesman Elias Dominguez said. "This is uncharted territory."
Sure, if you take the lump-sum option, you'll get only $389 million. Otherwise, it's 26 annual payments of about $20 million (the forced-discipline option we'd pick if we were the lucky winner). And then there's 25% for federal taxes and also maybe state and local taxes, depending on where you live.
But for the fun of it, let's just imagine how much money $540 million really is.
Here's a visual: If you walked down the street and found a dollar bill on the ground every 10 feet, you'd have to walk the circumference of the Earth 41 times to pick up all 540 million of those bills. Please don't ask how long that would take. (Post continues below.)
There are other ways to look at this. Imagine your buying power. CNN's Jack Cafferty provided some help:
- It's your salary for 5,400 years if you earn $100,000 a year.
- You could buy a thousand $500,000 homes. (Or if you're looking for more spectacular homes, WANE.com, in recognition of the $540 million prize, has a slideshow of mansions, a private island in the Bahamas, supercars, and other expensive items now within your budget.)
- "Or if you paid half of your winnings in taxes and invested the remaining roughly $270 million in tax-free municipal bonds earning 3%," Cafferty wrote, "you would garner about $8 million a year in interest."
KOMO News provided other ways to visualize just how rich you'd be with $540 million. Among them:
On very rare occasions when I feel like splurging, I can come up with a $5-plus drink at Starbucks. But with $540 million, it's triple venti caramel macchiatos on the house! You could buy over 98 million of the drinks -- or one for everyone in the state of California, New York and Texas and still have enough to buy two of them for all your friends in Washington state plus if you were feeling generous, one for everyone in Oregon too.
Or, you could buy 1.3% of Starbucks, the company.
Live in Yakima, Wash.? The jackpot is big enough for you to buy 12 million of your closest friends premier passes to the Spring Barrel Tasting at wineries between the Yakima Valley and the Tri-Cities.
Let's hope these suggestions keep you in the sharing mood. It's likely that if you win, you're not going to get the whole pot for yourself. As more people buy tickets, the likelihood of multiple winners increases. The Wall Street Journal says:
… up to a certain point, higher jackpots mean higher expected payouts. But after a certain point, the risk of multiple winners overwhelms the higher jackpots, and the expected payout goes down.
More on MSN Money:
3. Quit job.
4. Quietly move (unlisted phone, address) to secure house.
5. Help family, friends but get confidentiality agreements as I do not want to put them or myself in danger.
6. Charity (a number I support)
7. Travel for a while.
8. Volunteer work (don't take job from someone who needs it).
9. Again keep my mouth shut.
Not a hard question to answer. What would I do with it? Make sure myself and my family were taken care of, then give the money away.
I can imagine what it would be like to walk into a children's hospital that treats kids for free and asking them what they needed the most in the way of new technologies or replacing the old and then writing a check to cover it.
The local food bank would have a new trust set up to ensure that those in need got the foods they need.
Research for cancer and a number of other illnesses would get a boost.
PBS who get some as would the sunshine foundation.
I would seek to create a documentary on how quickly I could give away $300 million and do the most good with it.
Local small charities that helped children and animals would also reap the benefits.
After all, money has no value once you reach a point where you have enough to live on for the rest of your life. What good is it sitting in a bank somewhere gathering dusty when it can be used to help make our world a better place to live.
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