Hey, you never know, right? At $540 million, the Mega Millions jackpot has reached an all-time high — setting a world record for any lottery and enticing even snooty naysayers to try their dauntingly terrible odds. The jackpot soared after Tuesday's drawing — which featured a $363 million prize — failed to produce a winner. The gigantic haul could continue to rise before Friday's drawing as more people throw their money into the pot. Here, a numerical guide to the contest that is driving the nation into a frenzy:
Price of a ticket
Numbers that must be matched correctly to win the jackpot
Minimum prize, awarded to those who match the sixth number
1 in 40
Odds of winning any prize, including the $2 one
Number of winning tickets (for the smaller prizes) on March 23
1 in 176 million
Odds of winning the jackpot
1 in 280,000
Odds of getting struck by lightning
Percent chance the winning numbers will be drawn on Friday
Amount Washington Wizards forward Chris Singleton threw down on Mega Millions tickets this week, prompting one fan to note, "You guys are already rich"
Immediate cash payout option, before taxes, if you win the $540 million
Largest Mega Millions jackpot previously won (not the amount awarded), in March 2007
11, 14, 18, 33, 48
Only set of five numbers picked twice in Mega Millions history (the sixth numbers were different in each case)
Percent of jackpot winners who continue working for several years
Percent of earnings that winners save, on average
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