Jan 9, 2016, 11:27 am
Record Powerball jackpot could crown the first lottery billionaire
By Todd Northrop
For the third time in three days, the multi-state Powerball lottery jackpot has been raised to levels only dreamed about.
What if one person becomes a billionaire from a $2 lottery ticket? That's certainly a potential scenario tonight, when the numbers are drawn for the biggest lottery jackpot the world has ever seen.
Powerball offers two jackpot payment options: the $900 million jackpot prize paid over 29 years in 30 graduated payments; or the cash option, which is now estimated at $558 million.
And that may not be as big as it gets. We will only learn the final jackpot tally during the live draw show, which happens at 10:59 pm Eastern Time (7:59 pm Pacific) tonight.
Anyone looking to play Powerball in tonight's drawing and has not yet purchased their tickets should not hesitate to get to the store right away.
If you're not sure where to buy your tickets, head right over to the Lottery Places website to download the free app on your phone or Windows 8 or Windows 10 computer. Lottery Places is the only app on the market that will locate lottery retailers in every state and jurisdiction throughout the United States.
Due to the overwhelming demand to see the winning numbers tonight after the drawing, players are advised to first check USA Mega (www.usamega.com) because that website is more likely than most to be up and running. The crush of players checking their numbers all at once will completely disable most other websites.
"You can throw out the logic. You can throw out the statistics," Gary Grief, executive director of the Texas Lottery, said Friday. "We've never seen jackpots like this. It's a new experience for all of us."
So many people were buying Powerball tickets in Iowa on Friday that lottery spokeswoman Mary Neubauer said some stores were running out of paper for tickets, leaving lottery workers scrambling to resupply the outlets.
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. Less than 24 hours after that, MUSL again raised the official estimate to $800 million. And now, 24 hours later, they raised it once again to $900 million.
"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.
For those keeping score, 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.
The new Powerball jackpot ranks as the largest lump-sum cash value jackpot in history.
The number of jackpot cash values in the top 25, by lottery game, are:
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