It's a record for a U.S. lottery -- fed by weeks of drawings without a top winner. It has rolled 18 times since Marcia Adams of College Park won $72 million in the Jan. 24 drawing.
The jackpot was originally announced at $476 million early Wednesday morning but rampant ticket sales boosted the estimated payout to the $500 million mark later that day, and then again a boost to $540 million Thursday.
A winner could get $20.7 million a year for 26 years or a single payment worth $389 million.
The previous record jackpot in the Mega Millions game was $390 million in 2007, split by two winners in New Jersey and Georgia.
What could $540 million buy you in Seattle?
Ignoring taxes and the fact that you would "only" receive $389 million if you took the lump sum option, here is what $540 million could buy around Seattle:
* Safeco Field -- if you also built a time machine and went back to 1999. The park cost $517 million to build (although in 2012 dollars, it's about $722 million now. So you'd have to leave out a bullpen or two.) If you prefer football and/or soccer, you could buy CenturyLink Field -- with a modest loan of a few million -- as its 2012 cost is about $556 million.
* Or, you could just fund the New York Yankees for almost three seasons. (Almost?!?)
* 120 million trips across the 520 Bridge at peak toll rate of $4.50 (because, why would you need to worry about scooting over to I-90?)
* Or, you could just buy 11 percent of the new 520 bridge itself (estimated construction cost: $4.65 billion).
* Want to trade in your road commute for a water commute? $540 million will buy you 23.4 million round trips on the Washington State ferries -- and have enough change left over to risk $1.50 on their coffee vending machines.
* Or, you could just buy a cruise ship and cross the Sound in style. (Although the Coast Guard might have something to say about this idea.)
* On very rare occasions when I feel like splurging, I can come up with a $5+ drink at Starbucks. But with $540 million, it's triple venti caramel macchiatos on the house! You could buy over 98 million of the drinks -- or one for everyone in the state of California, New York and Texas and still have enough to buy two of them for all your friends in Washington state plus if you were feeling generous, one for everyone in Oregon too.
* Or, you could buy 1.3 percent of Starbucks, the company.
* Love to take in the city's sights? $540 million will allow you to take 28.4 million trips up to the Space Needle observation deck -- or one trip a day for 77,865 years. (Did you know 2.88 million inches of rain will have fallen in Seattle during that time?)
* Or, you could go to Pike Place Market, don some protective gear and warm up those biceps as you could be tossed 20.76 million pounds of Fresh Whole Wild Alaskan King Salmon.
* Flush with cash and want to see the world? You, or that travel agency you just bought, could just buy first class tickets online -- or you can go to Alaska Airlines and purchase 19.6 billion frequent flier miles! (Oh sure, they officially cap purchases to 40,000 miles, but I bet they make an exception.) It's enough to fly around the world 788,000 times. (We bet that's even more times than Microsoft tech billionaire Charles Simonyi got on his trips around the world.)
* Or, you could buy 2 Boeing 787s on your own (at list prices) - his/hers?!? - and have enough left over to buy a 737-800 for the kids (but they'd have to share).
* Going to be bored on all those flights but not enough room for the Library of Congress in the overhead bins? (I hear Boeing is working on that though.) You could buy enough Amazon Kindle Fires to house 1.6 billion books -- enough to hold 10 times the amount of content at the Library of Congress.
* Or, to give your eyes a rest and get moving, you could just head to Microsoft and order 1.35 million Xbox 360 Kinect systems -- well, maybe just a million... have to have enough left over for some games.
The next drawing is Friday at 11 p.m. I know I'll be working out just in case I'll need to catch all that salmon.
The Associated Press contributed to this report