In this game, you can actually go over the maximum number of 999 lives, and have up to over 1,000 lives.
By utilizing the 1-up trick found in 1-2, or any other place with a koopa troopa and a wall nearby, this is made simple.
Once you reach 1,000 lives, there will be a unique sound effect and some applause, and your hundredth place for your lives will turn into a crown.
Same goes for the tens, and the ones; they all turn into crowns once they exceed the number 9.
Once you reach the maximum number of lives(which is 1,110), the same sound effect and applause can be heard once more.