Mega Millions Lottery Jackpot Is at Least $333 Million: Will It Make You Rich?

Players hope to win Friday night's $333 million Mega Millions lottery jackpot.

August 28, 2009, 12:00 PM

Aug. 28, 2009— -- The Mega Millions winning numbers are in: 1, 17, 31, 37, 54 and the Mega number 31.

The lottery jackpot for Friday night's drawing has now reached at least $333 million, resulting in a lot of interest and a lot of dreams. After all, where else can just $1 buy you a chance to be set for life?

But if you hit it big, don't start spending the money yet -- you might have to split the prize -- and pay a ton of taxes.

Friday's jackpot is the third largest in U.S. lottery history.

The top U.S. jackpot was a $390 million Mega Millions prize, shared by a New Jersey couple and a truck driver from Georgia named Eddie Nabors who, when asked after he claimed the prize what he was going to do, said, "I'm going to fish," according to Mega Millions officials.

The second highest U.S. lotto winning jackpot was shared by eight co-workers at a food processing plant in Lincoln, Neb., who split a winning Powerball ticket worth $365 million in February 2006.

The odds of winning Friday's jackpot stand at a staggering 1 in 175 million.

Friday's prize grew after 14 consecutive Mega Millions drawings were held without a jackpot winner. Without a grand prize, the jackpot just gets rolled into the next drawing and keeps on growing. The 12-state game's prize rose by $73 million after Tuesday night's drawing failed to produce a winner. And if no one wins Friday's drawing, the jackpot will roll over again to an estimated $430 million, which would be the largest U.S. lotto jackpot ever.

So what would you do with $333 million?

Some lottery hopefuls said they'd first like to take care of practical expenses and then splurge on more luxurious commodities if they hit the jackpot.

"After requisite frivolous spending of a few million on houses, cars and such, I would invest to insure the financial security of my family," said Steve Elliott of Huntsville, Ala.

He said he'd also like to set up a college scholarship for the children of his friends and relatives and create an economic policy think tank.

"Last but not least, I would set up my own custom automobile shop to keep me busy and maybe earn some money," Elliott said. "That should do for the first six months."

After sharing money with her family and a local animal shelter, Angela Wright said she'd like to travel with her sister to Chicago, New York, the Bahamas and Paris.

"Her husband probably wouldn't like her being gone, but I would pay him off too," the Bowling Green, Ky., resident said.

With a lump cash payout estimated to be at least $210 million, who wouldn't want to invest in a lifelong dream?

"After taking some time to develop a strategy to minimize tax liabilities, my wife and I would set up a foundation and open a state-of-the-art, tuition-free Montessori school," said Chris Mohler, of Sacramento. "We would take care of close friends and family. And of course, travel the world!"

Kerry-Beth Acton said she'd like to commemorate her childhood experience playing on the softball team.

"The first thing I would do is build a softball complex and name it Atkins Memorial in memory of my parents," the Claycomo, Mo., resident said. "Dad played, and Mom kept the score book. The best childhood memories were on the softball trips."

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