Jan 10, 2016, 1:32 am
Initial estimate is $1.3 billion, but will undoubtedly go higher
By Todd Northrop
Is it even possible to imagine what it would be like to win more than $1 billion?
Millions of people around the nation will get the chance this Wednesday night, when Powerball is set to offer the largest lottery jackpot prize ever awarded in history.
The country came to a standstill Saturday night, as the Powerball lottery drew five numbers plus one Powerball number. Those numbers were 16, 19, 32, 34, and 57, with Powerball number 13.
Amazingly, not one single ticket sold for Saturday's drawing matched all of the numbers drawn, so the Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL) has set the initial Powerball jackpot estimate for Wednesday to $1.3 billion.
Yes, that's billion, with a "B".
After the Saturday estimate was raised three times after it's initial estimate of $675 million, finally landing at $949.8 million by draw time, it is a sure-fire bet that Wednesday's jackpot will similarly spark so many ticket sales that MUSL will push up the estimate once or twice — or three times — before Wednesday.
At this point it's almost quaint to think of the previous world record set by Mega Millions in March, 2012, of $656 million. That jackpot was won by three tickets sold in Illinois, Kansas, and Maryland.
The initial estimate for the lump-sum cash option for Wednesday's Powerball drawing is $806 million. Again, this easily crushes the previous Mega Millions cash value record of $471 million.
Doubtless, there will be a rush of media pundits clamoring to cite the tiny chance each player has of winning. There will probably be a thousand different analogies designed to explain how small the chances are. Maybe this time the odds are actually better of getting struck by lightning while at the same time being eaten by a shark than it is to win the Powerball jackpot.
But no matter how hard they try to convince people to resist the urge to play, the pundits are up against a simple fact: there is enough money at stake to make even the most pessimistic person line up at the lottery ticket counter this week.
If you're not sure where to buy your tickets, or if you're traveling out of state to buy 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.
Following the Saturday drawing, the Powerball annuity jackpot estimate was raised $350.2 million from its previous amount of $949.8 million. The cash value was raised by $217.1 million from its previous amount of $588.9 million.
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.
Lottery players seeking to check the winning numbers Wednesday night are urged to use USA Mega (www.usamega.com). State lottery Web sites are normally brought to a standstill during busy periods, while USA Mega normally remains responsive. That was the case Saturday night, when USA Mega delivered the winning numbers to hundreds of thousands of lottery players immediately following the drawing.
Powerball drawing results will be posted immediately after the 10:59 pm Eastern Time drawing at USA Mega (8:59 pm Pacific Time). The number of winners and new jackpot will be announced after all participating Powerball states have reported their data, which normally occurs within a couple of hours after the drawing.
Players are advised not to wait until the last minute to buy their lottery tickets. Sales will remain open until around 10:00 pm Eastern Time on Wednesday, although players should check with a lottery retailer in their state for the exact sales cutoff time.
The odds of winning the jackpot are approximately 1 in 292 million. The odds of winning any of the Powerball prizes are approximately 1 in 24.
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.
Powerball is now played in 44 states, plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, 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 largest lottery jackpot of all time worldwide. The amount of the jackpot may rise even further before the drawing Wednesday 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.
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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