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$800 MILLION: Powerball lottery jackpot approaches billion-dollar range

Jan 8, 2016, 11:32 am

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Powerball

Cash value is a half-billion dollars

By Todd Northrop

This is the lottery jackpot every lottery player has been waiting for!

Reaching into uncharted stratospheric heights, the Saturday Powerball jackpot is by far the largest lottery jackpot the world has ever seen, and is now also the largest lump-sum cash jackpot in world history.

Just a day after the jackpot was raised to $700 million, the Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL) has once again raised the official Powerball jackpot estimate for the Sat., Jan. 9, drawing to $800 million, with a lump-sum cash payout of $496 million.

And it may not stop there.

Players should watch for further jackpot increases before the Saturday drawing. Long lines of ticket buyers across the nation are generating lottery ticket sales at unprecedented levels. Players should avoid waiting until the last minute to buy their their tickets.

"Saturday's jackpot will be the largest jackpot of any U.S. lottery game on record. This is truly exciting and uncharted territory," said Gary Grief, executive director of the Texas Lottery and chair of the Powerball game group. "We want to remind players to play responsibly and that it only takes one ticket to win."

Saturday's jackpot started at $40 million on Nov. 7, 2015, and is the result of 18 drawings with no jackpot winner.

When nobody won the jackpot on Wednesday night, the initial estimate for Saturday's drawing was established at $675 million, setting the world record for a lottery jackpot. Less than 12 hours later, that estimate was raised to $700 million. And now, less than 24 hours after the last increase, MUSL has again raised the official estimate to $800 million.

The final jackpot tally will be announced during the live draw show on Saturday night, although it's still possible the official estimate will be increased again before then.

"This historic Powerball run has players across the country excited to join the fun, driving sales and the jackpot upward, all of which is a tremendous boost for the education programs funded by the Lottery," said Rebecca Hargrove, President and CEO of the Tennessee Lottery.

Although some lottery players (and some in the news media) believe Spain's El Gordo carries the largest lottery jackpot in the world, this is not the case. El Gordo, despite being termed a "lottery" is actually a raffle-style game, and the top prize is always divided between hundreds of winners. It is like a lottery scratch game in which is the total available prize pool of up to hundreds of millions of dollars is split between thousands of winners, and is not considered a "jackpot".

A jackpot is a large cash prize that accumulates until it is won, whereas a prize pool is the total value awarded to all players of a game. Thus, Powerball has the largest jackpot in world history, while El Gordo has the largest prize pool. Some may believe this is splitting hairs, but in the lottery industry it is an important distinction, and unfortunately one that the mainstream news media cares little to differentiate.

Powerball jackpots start at $40 million and roll until the jackpot is won. Players win the jackpot by matching five numbers from a field of 69 numbers and one Powerball number from a field of 26 numbers. Drawings are conducted each Wednesday and Saturday at 10:59 pm Eastern Time.

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

Saturday's Powerball jackpot currently stands as the largest lottery jackpot of all time in the United States — and in the world.  The amount of the jackpot may rise even further before the drawing Saturday night, as lotteries are typically conservative in their initial estimates, and brisk sales will certainly continue to push the jackpot estimate higher by draw time.

If nobody wins Saturday... well, let's not even go there.

  1. Powerball: $800 million, Jan. 9, 2016 - Preliminary estimate, not won yet
  2. Mega Millions: $656 million, Mar. 30, 2012 - Illinois, Kansas, Maryland
  3. Mega Millions: $648 million, Dec. 17, 2013 - California, Georgia
  4. Powerball: $590.5 million, May 18, 2013 - Florida
  5. Powerball: $587.5 million, Nov. 28, 2012 - Arizona, Missouri
  6. Powerball: $564.1 million, Feb. 11, 2015 - North Carolina, Puerto Rico, Texas
  7. Powerball: $448.4 million, Aug. 7, 2013 - Minnesota, New Jersey (2)
  8. Powerball: $425.3 million, Feb. 19, 2014 - California
  9. Mega Millions: $414 million, Mar. 18, 2014 - Florida, Maryland
  10. Powerball: $399.4 million, Sep. 18, 2013 - South Carolina
  11. Mega Millions: $390 million, Mar. 6, 2007 - Georgia, New Jersey
  12. Mega Millions: $380 million, Jan. 4, 2011 - Idaho, Washington
  13. Powerball: $365 million, Feb. 18, 2006 - Nebraska
  14. The Big Game: $363 million, May 9, 2000 - Illinois, Michigan
  15. Powerball: $340 million, Oct. 19, 2005 - Oregon
  16. Powerball: $338.3 million, Mar. 23, 2013 - New Jersey
  17. Powerball: $337 million, Aug. 15, 2012 - Michigan
  18. Powerball: $336.4 million, Feb. 11, 2012 - Rhode Island
  19. Mega Millions: $336 million, Aug. 28, 2009 - California, New York
  20. The Big Game: $331 million, Apr. 16, 2002 - Georgia, Illinois, New Jersey
  21. Mega Millions: $330 million, Aug. 31, 2007 - Maryland, New Jersey, Texas, Virginia
  22. Mega Millions: $326 million, Nov. 4, 2014 - New York
  23. Mega Millions: $319 million, Mar. 25, 2011 - New York
  24. Mega Millions: $315 million, Nov. 15, 2005 - California
  25. Powerball: $314.9 million, Dec. 25, 2002 - West Virginia

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

  • Powerball: 13
  • Mega Millions: 10
  • 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 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.

The new Powerball jackpot ranks as the largest lump-sum cash value jackpot in history.

  1. Powerball: $496 million cash, Jan. 9, 2016 ($800 million annuity) - Preliminary estimate, not won yet
  2. Mega Millions: $471 million cash, Mar. 30, 2012 ($656 million annuity) - Illinois, Kansas, Maryland
  3. Powerball: $384.7 million cash, Nov. 28, 2012 ($587.5 million annuity) - Arizona, Missouri
  4. Powerball: $381.1 million cash, Feb. 11, 2015 ($564.1 million annuity) - North Carolina, Puerto Rico, Texas
  5. Powerball: $370.9 million cash, May 18, 2013 ($590.5 million annuity) - Florida
  6. Mega Millions: $347.6 million cash, Dec. 17, 2013 ($648 million annuity) - California, Georgia
  7. Powerball: $258.2 million cash, Aug. 7, 2013 ($448.4 million annuity) - Minnesota, New Jersey (2)
  8. Mega Millions: $240 million cash, Jan. 4, 2011 ($380 million annuity) - Idaho, Washington
  9. Mega Millions: $233.1 million cash, Mar. 6, 2007 ($390 million annuity) - Georgia, New Jersey
  10. Mega Millions: $230.9 million cash, Mar. 18, 2014 ($414 million annuity) - Florida, Maryland
  11. Powerball: $227.8 million cash, Feb. 19, 2014 ($425.3 million annuity) - California
  12. Powerball: $224.7 million cash, Aug. 15, 2012 ($337 million annuity) - Michigan
  13. Powerball: $223.3 million cash, Sep. 18, 2013 ($399.4 million annuity) - South Carolina
  14. Mega Millions: $214 million cash, Aug. 28, 2009 ($336 million annuity) - California, New York
  15. Powerball: $211 million cash, Mar. 23, 2013 ($338.3 million annuity) - New Jersey
  16. Powerball: $210 million cash, Feb. 11, 2012 ($336.4 million annuity) - Rhode Island
  17. Mega Millions: $202.9 million cash, Mar. 25, 2011 ($319 million annuity) - New York
  18. Mega Millions: $197.5 million cash, Nov. 4, 2014 ($326 million annuity) - New York
  19. Powerball: $197.4 million cash, Sep. 30, 2015 ($310.5 million annuity) - Michigan
  20. Mega Millions: $194.4 million cash, Aug. 31, 2007 ($330 million annuity) - Maryland, New Jersey, Texas, Virginia
  21. Mega Millions: $185 million cash, Nov. 15, 2005 ($315 million annuity) - California
  22. The Big Game: $180 million cash, May 9, 2000 ($363 million annuity) - Illinois, Michigan
  23. Mega Millions: $177.3 million cash, Jan. 16, 2015 ($270 million annuity) - Illinois
  24. Powerball: $177.3 million cash, Feb. 18, 2006 ($365 million annuity) - Nebraska
  25. Powerball: $170.5 million cash, Dec. 25, 2002 ($314.9 million annuity) - West Virginia

The number of jackpot cash values in the top 25, by lottery game, are:

  • Powerball: 13
  • Mega Millions: 11
  • The Big Game: 1

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