Feb 8, 2015, 7:11 am
5th-largest US jackpot ever; 5th-largest cash value
By Todd Northrop
Mega jackpots are back!
2014 came and went as a year devoid of frenzy-inducing lottery jackpots, but 2015 is shaping up to be jackpot-chasers' dream.
Between now and Wednesday evening, anyone can walk into a store and buy a lottery ticket for a couple of bucks that has the potential of winning around a half-billion dollars.
An estimated $450 million, to put a finer point on it — but even that amount is likely to be far-exceeded by the time the Powerball drawing kicks off Wednesday evening.
That's because lotteries typically are very conservative in their initial jackpot estimates. But like we saw with Saturday's Powerball drawing, the initial estimate Thursday morning was $360 million, which grew to $380 million by Friday afternoon, and finally to $394.5 million by draw time Saturday night.
Seasoned lottery players keep an eye on the lump-sum cash value of the jackpot, and the initial estimate is just as eye-popping: $304.1 million. And likely to grow even bigger before Wednesday.
When compared against all lottery drawings conducted in United States lottery history, Wednesday's Powerball jackpot ranks 5th all-time, and the cash value also ranks as number 5 among all cash values in history. (See the top 25 United States annuity and cash value jackpots below.)
Of course, the big winner (or winners) will have to pay taxes on their prize, so USA Mega has a handy Jackpot Analysis page available to calculate the federal and state taxes that would be withheld upon the award of your nice big jackpot.
This is the largest Powerball jackpot since — well, since the largest Powerball jackpot of all time was awarded in the May 18, 2013, drawing. A single lottery ticket, purchased by Gloria MacKenzie of Zephyrhills, Florida, won the entire $590.5 million grand prize. (See Winner of record $590.5 million Powerball lottery jackpot announced, Lottery Post, June 5, 2013).
Wednesday's mammoth jackpot is the result of 20 consecutive draws without a winner. The run-up started as a $40 million prize on December 3, 2014.
The winning numbers for Saturday, February 7, 2015 were 5, 10, 21, 34, and 58, with Powerball number 33. The Power Play number was 5.
Even though nobody won the jackpot Saturday, 11 lucky players matched the first 5 numbers for a $1,000,000 prize: 2 from California, 2 from Florida, 1 from Louisiana, 1 from Massachusetts, 1 from Missouri, 2 from New York, 1 from Ohio, and 1 from Texas.
The two California second-prize winners each will be awarded $1,388,464, because California does not award fixed prizes. By law, California awards all prizes on a pari-mutuel basis, meaning the prizes will change each drawing based on the number of tickets sold and the number of tickets that won at each prize level.
Only one of the second-prize winners purchased the Power Play option — the ticket sold in Massachusetts. Because that ticket was purchased with the Power Play option their second-prize win is automatically doubled to $2 million. Power Play is not available in California, because the fixed nature of the prize increase offered in Power Play is not compatible with California's pari-mutuel payouts.
101 tickets matched four white numbers plus the Powerball and won $10,000. Of those tickets, 11 were purchased with the Power Play option, increasing the prize to $50,000, and 10 of the tickets were sold in California, where the prize was worth $13,056 this drawing.
Following the Saturday drawing, the Powerball annuity jackpot estimate was raised $55.5 million from its previous amount of $394.5 million. The cash value was raised by $37.5 million from its previous amount of $266.6 million.
The next Powerball drawing will take place Wednesday night at 10:59 pm Eastern Time.
When a Powerball ticket is purchased with the Power Play option for an extra $1 per ticket, any non-jackpot prize is increased according to a fixed prize schedule, which can be found on the Powerball Drawing Detail page at USA Mega, as well as on the Powerball Prize Payouts page at Lottery Post.
Powerball is played in 44 states, plus the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Drawings are Wednesdays and Saturdays at 10:59 p.m. Eastern Time. Tickets cost $2 each.
Powerball lottery results are published within minutes of the drawing at USA Mega (www.usamega.com). The USA Mega Web site provides lottery players in-depth information about the United States's two biggest multi-state lottery games, Mega Millions and Powerball.
Top 25 United States lottery jackpots of all time
Wednesday's Powerball jackpot currently stands as the 5th-largest lottery jackpot of all time in the United States, and the 3rd-largest Powerball jackpot ever. Brisk sales will almost certainly push the jackpot estimate higher by draw time.
If nobody wins Wednesday, it's anyone's guess how high it will go.
The number of jackpots in the top 25, by lottery game, are:
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 25 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.
Looking at the cash value, the upcoming Powerball jackpot ranks as the 5th-largest cash value in U.S. history.
The number of jackpot cash values in the top 25, by lottery game, are:
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