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$1.5 BILLION: Wednesday Powerball record jackpot still rising

Jan 12, 2016, 11:35 am

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Powerball

Cash value nearly $1 billion

By Todd Northrop

Is there anything happening this week that isn't Powerball?

Apparently not, because it seems that everyone in the US is buying Powerball tickets at a frantic pace, forcing officials at the Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL) to once again raise the Wednesday Powerball jackpot estimate by another $100 million to $1.5 billion.

The cash value of the jackpot is now raised to $930 million. By the time the drawing rolls around Wednesday night, we may be looking at a lump-sum cash payout of more than $1 billion.

Here's another crazy statistic:  The Wednesday cash value is now nearly double of the previous record cash value of $471 million, set by Mega Millions in 2012.

This is the second — and probably not the last — time MUSL has raised the jackpot estimate since it was initially set to $1.3 billion early Sunday morning.

By Monday morning officials had decided that enough tickets were being sold that they raised the estimate to $1.4 billion.  And now just 24 hours later, crazy-fast ticket sales prompted them to again increase the jackpot to $1.5 billion.

Players should watch for further jackpot increases before the Wednesday drawing. Long lines of ticket buyers across the nation are generating lottery ticket sales at unprecedented levels. Players absolutely should avoid waiting until the last minute to buy their their tickets. Because some of those lines are 4 or 5 hours long.

Players looking to purchase tickets at an out-of-the-way store with no lines should immediately download the free Lottery Places app, which is available on all modern mobile phones and computers.  It is the only app on the market that can find lottery retailers in every state and jurisdiction in the United States. So while all those people are waiting in 4-hour lines, a Lottery Places app user can find another retailer a bit further away that may have no line.

Wednesday's jackpot started at $40 million on Nov. 7, 2015, and is the result of 19 drawings with no jackpot winner.

The final jackpot tally will be announced during the live draw show on Wednesday 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.

Lottery players are strongly encouraged to go to USA Mega Wednesday night to see the winning numbers. USA Mega remains generally responsive during high-traffic draw nights, even when most other lottery websites are crushed by lottery players all checking their numbers at the same time.

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 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.

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

  1. Powerball: $1.5 billion, Jan. 13, 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: $930 million cash, Jan. 13, 2016 ($1.5 billion 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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