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Mega Millions soars to $640 million

If no one wins the world-record-breaking amount tonight, the jackpot could grow to nearly $1 billion.

By Karen Datko Mar 30, 2012 2:29PM

Unexpectedly brisk sales of Mega Millions tickets in the last 24 hours have driven the jackpot for tonight's drawing to $640 million -- $100 million more than Thursday's estimate, which set a new world record for the biggest lottery jackpot.


And it could get even larger when all of today's ticket sales are tallied. Sales have been robust throughout the day in the 42 states, plus Washington, D.C., where Mega Millions can be played. And ticket sales are bound to pick up as people leave work for the day. (Post continues below.)

At the $640 million mark, a winner would have the option of taking a $462 million lump-sum prize before taxes or collecting 26 annual installments of about $24 million each.


And, if no one wins in tonight's drawing, lottery officials will face a most unusual problem. The Boston Globe reports:

If a winner is not drawn tonight, the jackpot will climb to nearly $975 million. (Paul Sternburg, executive director of the Massachusetts Lottery) said that would be a problem for lottery agency billboards in other states that will not have enough digits to display the jackpot if it goes over $1 billion.

Image: Lottery Tickets (© Scott Speakes/Corbis/Corbis)But with so many people playing this lottery and buying multiple tickets, it's much more likely that someone will win tonight. In fact, there likely will be multiple winners.

Could you be one of them? Probably not. The chance is 1 in about 176 million. The Associated Press reports:

"You are about 50 times as likely to get struck by lightning as to win the lottery, based on the 90 people a year getting struck by lightning," (Mike) Catalano (math department chairman at Dakota Wesleyan University) said. "Of course, if you buy 50 tickets, you've equalized your chances of winning the jackpot with getting struck by lightning."
Based on other U.S. averages, you're about 8,000 times more likely to be murdered than to win the lottery, and about 20,000 times more likely to die in a car crash than hit the lucky numbers, Catalano said.

Some people are more realistic than others about their prospects. "I'm reading an article about what to do after you hit the mega millions jackpot. Next article, how to housebreak your unicorn," says @scottbhuff on Twitter," USA Today reports.


More on MSN Money:

Mar 30, 2012 3:39PM
Somebody's gotta win! Standing in the field holding my lottery ticket and a 1 iron in the air.
Mar 30, 2012 3:36PM
"Hey Joe, hold my spot in the foodstamp line while I go buy a lottery ticket and some smokes"
Mar 30, 2012 3:18PM
Mar 30, 2012 3:43PM
i can't even imagine what i would do first? My train of thought would surely derail for a while. i would need to go into hiding just to be able to collect my thoughts for the weekend. i do know that more that i would benefit from a blessing like this.
Mar 30, 2012 4:01PM

Where would one even keep/ do with that amount of money?  Guess it'd be fun to find out.

Mar 30, 2012 3:16PM
If I win this I will give a million dollars to everyone that has posted a comment before me. 9Jr38462 and Polo0214 wish me luck.
Mar 30, 2012 3:45PM
Even the people in the white house is playing the lotto tonight but with their thousands to buy tickets, hope they loose.
Mar 30, 2012 3:12PM
A retired NASA worker or a Billionaire will will it.

They say you have a better chance of randomly being hit by lightning 50 times or sinking 2 Hole in 1's in an afternoon.
Mar 30, 2012 3:33PM
The greedy welfare-bound ticket-buyers are the same ones that whine about how anyone rich is greedy.
Mar 30, 2012 4:16PM
Who ever wins I hope they help the sick children, wounded military men and women,and donate to the poor in their in their City.Those on food stamp programs are already being helped.There are so many hard working people out of work, they need help.Check with your own church and find the out of work  parishioners, and give them a donation to help..
Mar 30, 2012 8:07PM
I, too, would buy out or somehow rid the world of mundane and idiotic MMORPGs to stop the fanboy wannabe elitist pixelated bullsh*t that goes on in that world while the ppl cant seem to realize they havent been fun since 2007-2008, meanwhile helping them to move on with their lives without this ridiculous "something-to-prove"​ addiction. I, however, would NOT give scholarships to people with a lower GPA of 2.0-2.9, instead i would establish scholarships of students with a 3.0-4.0 GPA.. surprised? I'm not. Why? Because people who work hard and can retain intelligence are needed in this world for sciences (my current major) and mathematics. We need bright people in important jobs just like the rest of the smaller jobs that make the world go round. Instead of giving the lesser educated people a chunk of cash to buy pot and get tattoos, (was that stereotyping? my bad) these scholarships would help a MORE DEDICATED student to pay off loans for college. I would not give money to the government (other than the taxes they already took). I would also not give money to ANY larger and well known charity. I have smaller charities in mind and if I donate a substantial amount, i think they would get more done and it would mean more to them.. especially after watching "Burzynski." I would buy the muscle car of my dreams (a 70's challenger) a boat, a home near my father, and a truck. I would eat beef jerky, greek yogurts and drink coconut waters every day!!!
ps: if i dont win, i hope the winner would consider donating 10k for my college tuition. (I have a 3.85 GPA)
Mar 30, 2012 6:04PM

If I win I'm totally going to fix up my double-wide trailer,

 and maybe even get a white picket fence.

Mar 30, 2012 5:27PM
If your chances of winning are 1 in 176 million, why doesn't some billionaire just buy all 176 million different combinations and triple his/her money?? 
Mar 30, 2012 5:09PM
To whoever wins if it's not me............can I have my five dollars back?
Mar 30, 2012 5:06PM
I have it on very good authority that I will win the drawing.  (the little voices told me!)  Of course, I am sure there will be 639,999,999.4 others who will win at the same time.  (the .4 is just for the tax and spenders.)
Mar 30, 2012 6:19PM
Even if I start my own PAC, I'll have enough left over to quit my jobs!
Mar 30, 2012 7:43PM
if i win i will take some to africa to feed poor children...
Mar 30, 2012 4:34PM
Wow, Dakota Wesleyan University is in the news! YAY!
Mar 30, 2012 3:52PM

If Barack wins will he buy gas for all of us poor people since he won't drill any holes?

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