SACRAMENTO, March 29 (UPI) -- The Mega Millions lottery jackpot, sailing past $540 million Thursday, has become the biggest in world history, California lottery officials said.
It's anyone's guess what the prize money will be when the drawing is held Friday, state lottery spokesman Elias Dominguez said.
"It's spiraling out of control," Dominguez said. "This is uncharted territory."
Dominguez said California lottery authorities have met daily since Tuesday night scratching their heads attempting to analyze ticket sales that have soared to 283 million in the Golden State alone since the jackpot run-up began Jan. 25, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Astronomical odds apparently aren't dissuading people from trying to get a piece of the biggest lottery jackpot in U.S. history. It's the old, "you have a better chance of being struck by lightning" thing.
The odds of getting struck by lightning are one in 280,000, the National Lightning Safety Institute said.
Because of the way the game is set up -- with five balls drawn from a set numbered 1-56 and one from a set numbered 1-46 -- there's really no way to increase the odds of winning, said Michael Shackleford, a gaming mathematician and actuary.
"Your chances of winning the jackpot with Mega Millions will always be the same. It doesn't matter what numbers you pick or the jackpot size," Shackleford said.
The previous Mega Millions record jackpot was $390 million in March 2007, the lottery said.
Mega Millions tickets can be purchased on the day of the drawing until 10:45 p.m. EDT in most places, until 9:50 p.m. in New Hampshire and Vermont, and until 7 p.m. in Oregon.
Shackleford won't be among those buying a ticket "because it's a sucker's bet."
"I would be opposed to it just on principle alone," Shackleford said.
Dominguez said there's a good chance someone is going to hit it.
"Somebody's life is going to change," Dominguez said. "It's really exciting."
Mega Millions is played in 42 states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands.