Aug. 28, 2009 -- The Mega Millions lottery jackpot has now grown to $333 million for Friday night's drawing. With thousands of tickets selling every second, millions of people across the country are now dreaming of striking it rich.
So we decided to help you out with those dreams. The lump sum cash payout for Mega Millions is estimated to be $210.4 million. Even if there is more than one winner, that's still plenty of money to splurge on all sorts of luxuries.
Yes, we know that the first thing you probably will do is quit your job. Next, you will probably pay off some debt maybe send the kids or grandkids to college.
Vanessa Jorge, of Kearny N.J., said she would pay off student loans and give money to her family. Then she would build libraries in developing countries and promote literacy, start her own non-profit organization, travel to Africa and develop a radio station that plays songs that can actually touch people's souls and "not the nonsense" that others now constantly play on repeat day after day.
"I suppose I would do a lot with $325 million because I dream big and even if I never see that much money in my life I will still dream big and make all these things a reality," she said. (The jackpot was originally $325 million but has since increased due to large ticket sales.)
Joseph Kant of Lafayette, Calif., wasn't planning to buy a lottery ticket but still was dreaming. He would pay off debt, the mortgage and pay for his son's college tuition. Then he would donate money to programs to reduce crime, drugs and invest in environmentally-friendly energy to lower the country's dependence on oil.
"And of course," he said, "I would fulfill a longtime promise to my wife and son: taking them to Paris."
Below are five of our favorite ways to spend the money. These are just suggestions; really starting points for discussion. Please feel free to add your own thoughts and dreams on how to spend the jackpot in the comments section below.
Home is where the heart is -- and fortune as well.
"If someone were to win the lottery I would think they'd want to own a truly extraordinary home," said Leonard Steinberg, managing director at real estate firm Prudential Douglas Elliman.
Among Steinberg's available property listings is a historic building on New York City's Spring Street built in the 1880s and once owned by Rupert Murdoch's eldest son Lachlan. Though the building is divided into separate units, for $26 million one can buy the entire "painstakingly restored" 12,000-square-foot property.
Steinberg said if you "wanted to bring the whole family" to live with you, this property is a good choice because it is divided into three residences. The five-floor property has eight bedrooms, 10 bathrooms and also includes a penthouse with a two-car garage and skyline views spanning from the Chrysler Building to Wall Street.
Other attractive New York City properties up for grabs are three side-by-side townhouses on Greenwich Village's Downing Street. Each 6,000 square-foot townhouse will cost $16 million. Since the townhouses are currently being constructed, a new owner can customize to their exact specifications.
"I'd buy all three and have one for myself, one for the rest of my family and the other for guests," Steinberg said.
But lottery winners beware -- many other high-end real estate apartment listings are part of housing cooperatives. In order to move in, a prospective resident must first be approved by the co-op's board. That's no simple task, no matter the size of your checking account.
Now that you've won the big jackpot, why not do something nice for your friends and family?
Forget the standard vacation. Consider renting out an entire 50-villa resort.
The Regent Maldives, which is about to open, occupies the entire Maalefushi Island in the Indian Ocean and can be yours for just $100,000 a night. The entire resort can be reserved for anywhere from two to 120 guests, combining the ultimate private island experience with the luxury of a full-service resort.
The Regent will do everything from providing live music to organizing chef demonstrations on the beach.
The $100,000 rate at the Regent includes breakfast, dinner, beverages, afternoon tea, spa treatments, water sports and snorkeling.
The Regent Maldives will feature 23 beach villas and 27 over-water villas. All villas will have direct beach access, private plunge pools and expansive timber decks offering breathtaking views across the turquoise lagoon. Villa bathrooms open to either a private garden or ocean vista and include both indoor and outdoor showers as well as outdoor polished stone tubs.
Though it may be tempting to spend prize money on pampering yourself, philanthropic giving is common among individuals with means.
"The demand for services provided by charitable organizations is at an all-time high yet we're in a time when raising money for charitable organizations is extremely difficult," said Bob Ottenhoff, president and CEO of Guidestar, the largest database of non-profit organizations.
Whether that money goes to cancer research, your church, university a human rights group, international disaster relief, animal shelters or food banks, experts suggest you plan your giving wisely.
"Don't get caught up in the elation of winning the lottery because your money is extremely important and valuable, so take some time think through how to spend it the best," Ottenhoff said.
Lottery winners may want to create a donor-advised fund, as a way to manage charitable dollars, he said.
"Ask yourself what's most important to you in terms of your priorities and values, what really excites your or makes you angry that you would like to change, and begin to research the organizations that meet your priorities," Ottenhoff said.
After choosing a charitable cause, one way to decide which organization to donate to is to set up a contest and ask organizations to propose their ideas on what they can do to tackle the issue. Doing so can help individuals identify the most capable and experienced organizations deserving of donations, Ottenhoff said.
Forget lavish vacations or posh homes. To really signal your entrance into the world of the rich, consider buying a private island in the Bahamas. For as little as $750,000 you can purchase and camp out on your own private slice of paradise in The Bahamas, just like actor Johnny Depp, who purchased his own island in Exuma.
That's a steal considering, a 55-acre island off Eleuthera will run you $39 million.
But what do you care? You are now a multi-millionaire.
For just $6.95 million you could have White Bay Cay, a 25-acre island in the Exuma cays. Picture white sand beaches on the edge of the blue and green sea.
The Bahamas is one of the few places in the world where you can find pink sand; it has one of the largest barrier reefs and an underwater nature preserve which means amazing diving and snorkeling.
Not a bad place to live out your early retirement.
The new Mercedes-Benz AMG SLS may catch the eye of new multi-millionaire. In spring 2010, after more than 50 years, the German automaker will bring back its classic Gullwing sports car, known for its signature doors that opened up towards the sky. Only 1,400 of the original Gullwings, considered highly prized collector's items that sell for as much as $1 million, were made from 1954 to 1957. With an approximate asking price of $200,000, the new Gullwing may be considered a bargain, said Bruce Wallin, editorial director of Robb Report magazine, which focuses on luxury brand products and services.
"You can't go wrong with a Gullwing," said Wallin, adding that the new model will be an instant collector's item as well. "They say when you buy a new car, the second you drive it off the lot it loses value. With a car at this level, it's a different story. This is a car that could increase in value."
The new model has a 571 horsepower engine and can accelerate from zero to 60 miles per hour in 3.8 seconds.
"It's a beautiful machine and promises to be very fun to drive," Wallin said.