Money

Mega Millions jackpot hits $540 million — here's what to know

Life is full of expenses — it's unavoidable. With bills, student loans and credit-card debt, it's no wonder America is lottery-crazed. And while the Mega Millions jackpot — currently at $540 million — hasn't yet reached Powerball-level hysteria, it's a lot of money on the line.

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Mega Millions lottery rises to $540 million

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Mega Millions lottery rises to $540 million

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The drawing for the jackpot will happen tonight at 11 p.m. Eastern time, but tickets can be purchased up until 10:45 p.m. It costs $1 per play, and some states offer a "megaplier" that enhance winnings of non-jackpot prizes for an additional $1.

RELATED: Here's how to stay anonymous if you win the lottery

The only states where tickets cannot be purchased are Nevada, Utah, Mississippi and Alabama.

But don't get too excited yet. Your chances of winning on a $1 ticket are 1 in 258.9 million.

If a single winner of the jackpot chooses the lump sum of the $540 million jackpot, it will still be worth $236.7 million. The winner can also choose to have the jackpot paid out over the course of 26 years.

If you're on the fence about playing, now might be a good time. A recent analysis by CNBC reveals that a bigger jackpot doesn't necessarily mean it's a better time play. Because larger prizes tend to generate more ticket sales, there's a higher probability that there will be multiple winners, splitting the winnings.

The $540 million prize is the seventh largest lottery jackpot of all time, and the third largest in Mega Millions' history.

The second largest Mega Millions jackpot was $648 million, with winners in California and Georgia in 2013, while the largest was a whopping $656 million, split among winners in Kansas, Illinois and Maryland in 2012.

RELATED: 9 ways to handle your money if you win the lottery

If no one matches all five numbers tonight, the jackpot will continue to grow until the next drawing on July 12.

The real question: Are you feeling lucky?

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