mega-millions

What to buy when you win the $640 million Mega Millions

March 30, 2012 at 7:38 AM ET

Bill McDavid / Hall and Hall /
Mill Creek Ranch property

Welcome to the 1 percent, hypothetical lottery winner.  Here’s what you can buy with your winnings.

The Mega Millions lottery jackpot hit a record $540 million Thursday and by Friday it had climbed to $640 million with a lump sum option of $462 million.

If you're lucky enough to beat the 1-in-176 million odds and win, the bad news is you won’t be able to take home that full amount. That's because lottery officials will withhold 25 percent for federal gaming taxes, according to Arlen Harris of the Washington's Lottery, which participates in the Mega Millions.

Still, you should be pretty well set for life.

While you still might be on the hook for state taxes, you would have the kind of money to afford multiple homes, travel by private jet and take up a fancy hobby like collecting fine wine or antique cars, said Bruce Wallin, editorial director of the luxury goods magazine Robb Report.

"That kind of money affords the ability to pursue your passions to the kind of extreme that a lot of us dream of," he said.

You could even follow in the underwater path of Hollywood director James Cameron and spend a few million on a personal submarine, one of the latest trends among the superrich.

Still, Wallin cautions that you might want to try before you buy. For example, a 220-foot luxury yacht, complete with a crew and all the toys you can imagine can be rented for about $300,000 a week. That's well within your new budget and a good way to test the waters, literally, before spending $10 million or $20 million on your own yacht.

If you are ready to buy, here are some items to consider for your shopping list.

Your own island

Windermere /
Allan Island in Washington state

What’s the first thing that’s going to happen after you win the lottery? Inevitably, that guy who was a jerk to you in high school or that relative who’s been ridiculing you for years is going to find you on Facebook and start hitting you up for money.

Time to get away. Far away.

Private islands range in price from under $50,000 to $160 million. For just a small fraction of your winnings, you can be the owner of 292-acre Allan Island in Washington state, listed for $13.5 million.

Still, the upkeep alone can be daunting. Wallin recommends renting an island before you buy.

"One of the things you'd want to do in winning the lottery is take a great trip," he said.

Your own ranch 

Bill Mcdavid / Hall and Hall /
Mill Creek Ranch

Maybe you get seasick easily or you fancy yourself more of a rugged Western type. Don’t despair, you can still find plenty of privacy on the mainland.

With less than one-tenth of your winnings -- or $29.5 million -- you could be the owner of Mill Creek Ranch, a nearly 26,000-acre ranch in Red Bluff, Calif., with a 7,388-square-foot Spanish Colonial home.

Of course, you’ll have to budget about $48,623 a year in taxes. For perspective, that’s a little less than the median annual household income in this country.

A jet

Mike Wintroath / AP /
A Hawker 4000 jet airplane

The good news about the Red Bluff property – it’s just a few miles from a jet-capable airport.

Here’s where you might want to take some advice from the other 1 percenters. Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway owns NetJets, which provides fractional ownership of jets and saves you the hassle of having to buy a whole jet all on your own.

The Marquis Jet Card gets you 25 hours of flight time for a mere $119,000 a year.

If you take the lottery's annual payment option, that would represent just a few days' worth of your yearly payout.

Your dream car

Porsche /
Porsche 918 Spyder

Before you won the lottery, maybe your idea of a dream car was just something that didn’t leak too much oil and was less likely to break down on the freeway during the heavy commute hours.

Now, you can afford to have a lot more fun on the road.

The Porsche 918 Spyder may be a good option, if you can wait a while.

Porsche only plans to make 918 of these, so it will set you back $845,000. But on the bright side you’ll be saving money on gas. The plug-in gas-electric hybrid, due out in November 2013, has a V8 engine that generates 500 horsepower plus two electric motors that help it get an estimated 78 miles per gallon.

A great party

Frontiers Elegant Journeys /
Orient Express Royal Scotsman

Look, you’ve just won the lottery: Beer and chips at your place is just not going to do.

When it comes to luxury party planning, the options are endless. If you want to keep the gathering intimate, and keep the paparazzi and unwanted guests out of your hair, it’s best to keep moving.

The Royal Scotsman will take you and up to 36 of your closest friends on a four-day excursion through the Scottish Highlands. Yes, you’ll be traveling on your own private train. The “rolling house party” starts at just $166,800, or less than 1 percent of those annual payments.

A sports team, or a few companies

 

If you do win the lottery, the most common bad joke/piece of advice you're likely to hear is, "Don't spend it all in one place." (Wow, is that going to get old.)

But if you do want to go big, CNBC notes that your winnings are enough to buy the Dallas Stars of the National Hockey League or a medium-sized company like Rosetta Stone or Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia.

Storify: What would you buy?

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