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Wondering how to spend a Mega Millions jackpot? Here are some ideas

A cashier prints out a Mega Millions lottery ticket at a 7-Eleven convenience store in Chino Hills, Calif., on July 28. The first Mega Millions jackpot of 2023 will be the fourth-largest amount in the game’s history.  (Ringo Chiu/GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/TNS)
A cashier prints out a Mega Millions lottery ticket at a 7-Eleven convenience store in Chino Hills, Calif., on July 28. The first Mega Millions jackpot of 2023 will be the fourth-largest amount in the game’s history. (Ringo Chiu/GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/TNS)
By Jim Camden For The Spokesman-Review

As the Mega Millions lottery jackpot closes in on $1 billion, some people who otherwise wouldn’t consider wasting their money on a ticket start thinking about taking a chance on becoming an instant billionaire and going on a spending spree.

There are two problems with that. The billion-dollar jackpot would be paid out over 30 years, so if you want it right now in cash, your spending spree would be about half that.

The other problem is that it’s pretty hard for the average person to spend $1 billion. The federal government spends that in about an hour, every hour of every day, but it’s had lots of practice. And while Elon Musk can drop $44 billion for Twitter somewhat on a whim, spending in the nine- or 10-digit range could be difficult for a person who’s biggest weekly bill might be groceries and highest monthly payout is rent or a mortgage payment.

Many billionaires buy a major league sports team, but at current values, you couldn’t buy the Mariners, valued at $1.7 billion, or the Seahawks, valued at $4.5 billion. You could buy the Miami Marlins, which Forbes estimates has a value of about $990 million, although that would leave you with a paltry $10 million for other things.

If you can’t buy a team, you might try to buy a place where one plays. Lumen Field, where the ’Hawks play, was built for $430 million in 2002, but that’s $711 million in 2023 dollars. T-Mobile cost $517 million when it was finished in 1999, but that would be worth $842 million today. A little closer to home, Veterans Memorial Arena, which cost $122 million when finished in 1995, would cost $238 million today.

Inflation’s a bear, even for billionaires.

A new billionaire looking for a big-ticket item might try to shop at the same place the Pentagon shops. The most expensive single item right now is probably a B-2 bomber, but $1 billion would only cover about half of that. You could buy an F-35 fighter jet – if the Pentagon would let you – which has a price tag of about $78 million off the assembly line. With ground support, maintenance and spare parts, you’d probably be out more like $110 million, and that’s before hiring someone who could fly it.

A fighter jet isn’t practical for getting around, and it’s not very comfortable. You could easily afford a private jet.

The Jet Finder website lists the most expensive one ever made – other than Air Force One, which technically isn’t private – as a $600 million Airbus A380 made for a Saudi prince, but the upkeep would eat up much of what you had left of that $1 billion. You might want to settle for a Gulfstream III, which starts at about $75 million and can be personalized for a few million more. Tyler Perry’s $125 million bought him a jet with a movie room, dining area, lounge and VIP bedroom.

A new billionaire also needs a new car.

The most expensive car ever sold, according to the JamesEdition website, was a 1955 Mercedes-Benz SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe, sold last year for $143 million by the Mercedes Museum to a private collector. You could check to see if he or she is tired of it, or maybe of the insurance premiums.

The most expensive new car made last year was the Bugatti Centodicci, with a price tag of $13 million. They only made 10 of them, but you could see if they have one left.

You’d have plenty left over to buy a yacht, and there’s a nice 394-foot job listed on Denison Yachting’s web page for $285 million. It’s in Spain, but you can afford to fly there first class, or take your Gulfstream III.

People who come into a windfall often buy a new home, and you could easily afford the most expensive home in the country: a mansion in Bel Air, California, with an asking price of $295 million. If you want to stay in Washington, there’s a three-bedroom, six-bath, 8,400-square-foot number with a pool sitting on a well-landscaped acre on 42nd Avenue in Seattle with an asking price of $29 million. Zillow says it’s been on the market for 226 days, so you might be able to offer less.

You could stay in Spokane County, spend about one-tenth of that and get more home – eight bedrooms, seven bathrooms and 8,700 square feet, on a home listed on Zillow at just under $3 million in Chattaroy. Or you could plunk down $4.5 million on 102 acres on the 4100 block of Sundance Drive and build the home of your dreams. Actually, you could build the homes of 10 people’s dreams, because the land can be subdivided, but then you might wind up making money and the goal of this type of idyll is to spend it.

But that would be difficult in Spokane County, where you could buy the 500 most expensive homes, and still have $100 million left over, according to the market totals listed for 2023 property values by the county assessor’s records. Or you could buy every piece of property owned by Spokane County and the cities of Spokane and Spokane Valley, and have $200 million left over.

Before your dreams get too elaborate, however, there’s one other thing to remember: The odds on winning the Mega Millions lottery are 1 in 176 million, which is greater than the odds of getting struck by lightning twice in your lifetime.

Or the odds of sinking successive holes-in-one.

Or the odds of being dealt a straight flush on one hand and a full house on the next.

Staff writer Colin Tiernan contributed to this report.

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