UPDATED. Jackpot frenzy has never been this crazy. Since no one hit all the numbers in Tuesday night’s Mega Millions draw, when the jackpot was "just" $363 million, there is no stopping the momentum for Friday's draw. As of noon Friday, the jackpot is estimated at $640 million, and by drawing time, it could very well go higher. The previous record jackpot was just under $400 million.


Odds are this time the jackpot will get hit -- with so many tickets in play, the winning combination will "probably" be covered. But of course, these things are unpredictable. One thing for sure, the Illinois Lottery picked the right time to begin Internet sales -- it has been selling Mega Millions tickets online since Sunday. It's a nice option for Illinois players to have, but retail sales still dominate.

For all 44 participating lotteries, the rush in sales for this world record jackpot will surely mean their fiscal 2012 results will be equally record-breaking, especially combined with a $336 million Powerball jackpot in February. Those kinds of numbers bring in the infrequent players (like me, I admit!) – for a buck or two of risk, that’s a serious return for some lucky player. People do win these things, after all. So what if the odds are high (one in almost 176 million for Mega Millions) – it’s pure fun thinking about it.

That $640 million Mega Millions prize is annuity-based, and the cash option amount is currently $462 million. Figure 40 percent off the top for taxes, and you have $277 million left, cash in hand. What can/can’t you do with $277 million?

  • You could have bought all 2,921 yearlings sold at the 2011 Keeneland September yearling sale and have $54 million left over for training expenses. Maybe you’d have the 2013 Kentucky Derby winner in the group!
  • You can buy a fabulous 25-day excursion to the Antarctic Peninsula, South Georgia and the Falkland Islands for you and 13,194 of your friends. Count me in – I’d give anything to make another trip!
  • You could have bought the most expensive single family home in America and still have $177 million left to pay for the staff and upkeep of this luxury property in Los Altos Hills, Calif.
  • You still couldn’t have made much of a dent in the $2.4 billion Revel, the new Atlantic City resort casino opening on Monday.
  • You can’t build a casino in Massachusetts, since the minimum required investment is $500 million. By some miracle if no one wins the Friday draw, the cash option on more than $1 billion would get you there.
  • But you would have had more than enough to build the new $150 million Valley Forge Casino Resort, which opens Saturday in Pennsylvania.

It all depends on your priorities. smiley