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$600 MILLION: Biggest Powerball jackpot ever

May 17, 2013, 1:05 pm

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Powerball

Closing in on all-time lottery record

By Todd Northrop

Only once before has the United States — or the world — witnessed a lottery-buying frenzy like we are seeing this week.

That was in March, 2012, when the multi-state Mega Millions game was busy setting a record for the largest jackpot in world history.

This time it's Powerball's turn to make people stop what they're doing and line up for lottery tickets.

Powerball tickets are being bought at such a rapid pace that the Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL), which operates the Powerball game, has raised the jackpot estimate for a second time in two days.

Who knows, it may even get raised again Saturday before the drawing.

Early Thursday morning, around 12:30 am Eastern Time, USA Mega announced the new record Powerball jackpot of $475 million after nobody won in the Wednesday evening drawing.

Twelve hours later, the jackpot estimate was raised to $550 million.  (See $550 MILLION: Powerball jackpot now more than a half-billion dollars, Lottery Post, May 16, 2013.)

Now, one day later, the official jackpot estimate has been raised yet again — to $600 million — with one more full day of sales to go before the big drawing.

The only question left is whether or not this Powerball juggernaut will set the all-time lottery jackpot record, eclipsing the $656 million Mega Millions jackpot set on March 30, 2012.

The cash value for Saturday's drawing now stands at a jaw-dropping $376.9 million.  Surprisingly, the cash value is still the third-largest amount in history, even though the annuity estimate is now the second-largest on record.  (The updated list of top annuity and cash jackpots can be found below.)

The rush of people trying to check their numbers on the Internet tomorrow night will likely have most Web sites swamped.  Players are encouraged to check their numbers at USA Mega (www.usamega.com), which tends to survive incredible traffic volumes better than most state lottery Web sites.

"Players checking online should hang in there and refresh their Web browser every so often until they get through to the site," said Todd Northrop, founder of Lottery Post and USA Mega. "The rush of traffic happens right at 11:00 pm Eastern Time, so waiting a half hour or so before checking the numbers will probably be easiest."

In the meantime, lottery players dreaming about what $600 million means to them after taxes have been withheld can check USA Mega's Jackpot Analysis page, which provides the information for each individual state.

Powerball features nine different prize levels, ranging from $4 all the way up to the jackpot. Players can win even if they just match one number — the Powerball number.

States also offer the Power Play option for an extra dollar per ticket purchased. The Power Play multiplies any non-jackpot prizes won by a fixed amount, depending on the prize level won.

Players who purchase the Power Play and win second prize will automatically have their prize increased by 2x to $2 million.

Top 25 United States lottery jackpots of all time

Saturday's Powerball jackpot currently stands as the 2rd-largest lottery jackpot of all time in the United States.  The amount of the jackpot may rise before the drawing Saturday night, as lotteries are typically conservative in their initial estimates, and current sales frenzy may push the jackpot estimate higher by draw time.

If nobody wins Saturday, it's anyone's guess how high it will go.

  1. Mega Millions: $656 million, Mar. 30, 2012 - Illinois, Kansas, Maryland
  2. Powerball: $600 million, May 18, 2013 - Preliminary estimate, not won yet
  3. Powerball: $587.5 million, Nov. 28, 2012 - Arizona, Missouri
  4. Mega Millions: $390 million, Mar. 6, 2007 - Georgia, New Jersey
  5. Mega Millions: $380 million, Jan. 4, 2011 - Idaho, Washington
  6. Powerball: $365 million, Feb. 18, 2006 - Nebraska
  7. The Big Game: $363 million, May 9, 2000 - Illinois, Michigan
  8. Powerball: $340 million, Oct. 19, 2005 - Oregon
  9. Powerball: $338.3 million, Mar. 23, 2013 - New Jersey
  10. Powerball: $337 million, Aug. 15, 2012 - Michigan
  11. Powerball: $336.4 million, Feb. 11, 2012 - Rhode Island
  12. Mega Millions: $336 million, Aug. 28, 2009 - California, New York
  13. The Big Game: $331 million, Apr. 16, 2002 - Georgia, Illinois, New Jersey
  14. Mega Millions: $330 million, Aug. 31, 2007 - Maryland, New Jersey, Texas, Virginia
  15. Mega Millions: $319 million, Mar. 25, 2011 - New York
  16. Mega Millions: $315 million, Nov. 15, 2005 - California
  17. Powerball: $314.9 million, Dec. 26, 2002 - West Virgina
  18. Powerball: $314.3 million, Aug. 25, 2007 - Indiana
  19. Powerball: $295.7 million, Jul. 29, 1998 - Indiana
  20. Powerball: $295 million, Aug. 25, 2001 - Delaware, Kentucky, Minnesota, New Hampshire
  21. Mega Millions: $294 million, Jul. 2, 2004 - Massachusetts
  22. Powerball: $276.3 million, Mar. 15, 2008 - West Virgina
  23. Mega Millions: $275 million, Feb. 22, 2008 - Georgia
  24. Mega Millions: $270 million, Feb. 28, 2006 - Ohio
  25. Mega Millions: $266 million, May 4, 2010 - California

For those keeping score, the number of jackpots in the top 25, by lottery game, are:

  • Mega Millions: 11
  • Powerball: 12
  • The Big Game: 2

The Big Game is the original name of Mega Millions, from the game's first drawing on Sep. 6, 1996 through May 14, 2002.  The name was changed to Mega Millions starting with the May 17, 2002 drawing.

Top 20 cash value jackpots

Since many lottery winners collect their winnings in cash, the lump-sum payout is an important measure of what a winning ticket could be worth.  The upcoming Powerball jackpot ranks as the 3rd-highest ever in the United States.

  1. Mega Millions: $471 million cash, Mar. 30, 2012 ($656 million annuity) - Illinois, Kansas, Maryland
  2. Powerball: $384.7 million cash, Nov. 28, 2012 ($587.5 million annuity) - Arizona, Missouri
  3. Powerball: $376.9 million cash, May 18, 2013 ($600 million annuity) - Preliminary estimate, not won yet
  4. Mega Millions: $240 million cash, Jan. 4, 2011 ($380 million annuity) - Idaho, Washington
  5. Mega Millions: $233.1 million cash, Mar. 6, 2007 ($390 million annuity) - Georgia, New Jersey
  6. Powerball: $224.7 million cash, Aug. 15, 2012 ($337 million annuity) - Michigan
  7. Mega Millions: $214 million cash, Aug. 28, 2009 ($336 million annuity) - California, New York
  8. Powerball: $211 million cash, Mar. 23, 2013 ($338.3 million annuity) - New Jersey
  9. Powerball: $210 million cash, Feb. 11, 2012 ($336.4 million annuity) - Rhode Island
  10. Mega Millions: $202.9 million cash, Mar. 25, 2011 ($319 million annuity) - New York
  11. Mega Millions: $194.4. million cash, Aug. 31, 2007 ($330 million annuity) - Maryland, New Jersey, Texas, Virginia
  12. Mega Millions: $185 million cash, Nov. 15, 2005 ($315 million annuity) - California
  13. The Big Game: $180 million cash, May 9, 2000 ($363 million annuity) - Illinois, Michigan
  14. Powerball: $177.3 million cash, Feb. 18, 2006 ($365 million annuity) - Nebraska
  15. Mega Millions: $168 million cash, July 2, 2004 ($294 million annuity) - Massachusetts
  16. Mega Millions: $167.7 million cash, Feb. 22, 2008 ($275 million annuity) - Georgia
  17. Powerball: $166 million cash, Aug. 25, 2001 ($295 million annuity) - Delaware, Kentucky, Minnesota, New Hampshire
  18. Mega Millions: $165.2 million cash, May 4, 2010 ($266 million annuity) - California
  19. Powerball: $164.4 million cash, won Oct. 19, 2005 ($340 million annuity) - Oregon
  20. Mega Millions: $164 million cash, Feb. 28, 2006 ($270 million annuity) - Ohio

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