Dream big: Mega Millions jackpot rises to $540 million

SALEM, Ore. - $540 million. More than half a billion dollars.

Oregon Lottery officials in Salem said that's where the latest Mega Millions lottery jackpot sits for Friday evening's 8 p.m. drawing. Tickets must be purchased by 7 p.m. Friday to be eligible for the drawing.

The big prize was set at $500 million on Wednesday after nobody matched Tuesday's winning numbers. On Thursday, it was boosted to $540 million as ticket sales exploded across the nation.

And the jackpot could grow. "I really think it will," Chuck Baumann with the Oregon Lottery said, although he passed on predicting where the prize could ultimately end up. Baumann said "drawing days" like Friday see the biggest boost in sales, possibly driving up the jackpot again.

If a single ticket matches Friday's numbers, the lucky winner of $540 million - if that's where the jackpot stays - can choose to take home $261 million in a lump sum or $13.9 million a year for the next 26 years and those figures are adjusted for after taxes, according to the Oregon Lottery.

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Mega Millions is a multi-state lottery similar to Powerball and is played in dozens of states including Oregon and Washington. The drawing is held in Atlanta.

Baumann said that, unfortunately, due to his job with the Oregon Lottery, he is not allowed to play Mega Millions but can play Powerball in states other than Oregon.