Mega Millions Jackpot Jumps to $640M

In Illinois alone, officials said Friday ticket sales exceeded $10 million

By Lauren Petty and Lisa Balde
|  Friday, Mar 30, 2012  |  Updated 10:03 PM CDT
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Dick Johnson

For the first time in 27 years of selling lottery tickets, the Hinsdale Shell had to bring in a third lotto machine terminal to handle the volume of Mega Millions sales.

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UPDATE: The Mega Millions lottery numbers, drawn Friday night, are:
2, 4, 23, 38, 46 Mega Ball: 23

A staggering $540 million Mega Millions jackpot jumped Friday morning to a record $640 million.

It's the largest lottery jackpot in history, with winning odds are dwindling.

But as they say, you've got to be in it to win it. And apparently, many are.

In Illinois alone, officials said ticket sales exceeded $10 million. About 14 hours before the drawing, sales were through the roof with machines in 42 states spitting out tickets. Since Tuesday, the pot jumped from $363 million to $500 million to $540 million to $640 million, and depending on how many people buy tickets, the jackpot could go higher.

At a Streeterville 7-11 in Chicago, people were lined up at a lotto machine before 6 a.m.

The lump sum payment: $462 million. That's up from the morning's $390 million, ironically the same amount as the largest total Mega Millions prize before this one. It was split between two winners in 2007.

Indeed, one way people get involved in Mega Millions is by jumping into a pool of buyers at work or among friends and agreeing to split the prize. Experts say, though, that pools could mean trouble and suggest establishing clearly defined rules in writing.

Other attorney suggestions include photocopying the tickets front and back, defining a deadline for everyone getting into the pool and asking participants to contribute the same amount.

Warnings aren't stopping Chicagoans from making big plans for their imagined winnings. Here's what some local lotto players said when we asked what they would do with $540 million:

"I can race cars maybe." "Donate some to charity." "Travel." "Retire early." "Maybe a lifetime supply of Oreos."

Numbers will be drawn at 10 p.m. Friday. Matching all five numbers and the Mega number won't be easy, though. May the odds be ever in your favor.

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