The Powerball jackpot has reached $450 million, making it the sixth largest lottery jackpot in United States history. Although the odds of winning the grand prize are 1 in 292,201,338, millions of tickets are being sold in 42 states, as well as Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Washington, D.C.
As discussed on the official website, Powerball is run by the Multi-State Lottery Association, which was formed in 1987. At its inception, the association was comprised of five states, including Iowa, Kansas, Oregon, Rhode Island, and West Virginia, as well as Washington, D.C.
— The Associated Press (@AP) January 6, 2016
In 1992, the MUSL introduced a new lottery game called Powerball, which replaced the Lotto*America game.
Over the next 24 years, the Multi-State Lottery Association grew to include 36 member lotteries. Although Powerball tickets are only sold in 42 states, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Washington, D.C., anyone can play — as long as the tickets are purchased from “a state lottery sales terminal in the lottery jurisdictions that sells the Powerball game.”
Wednesday’s drawing for the $450 million Powerball jackpot will be held at 10:59 p.m. Eastern Time in Tallahassee, Florida. Ticket sales will stop between one and two hours hour before the drawing occurs. As each state sets their own sales cut-off time, players are encouraged to check their state lottery website for specific information.
Each single play ticket costs $2. For an additional $1, players can include the Power Play multiplayer game.
To win the grand prize of $450 million, players must match all five white ball numbers, in any order, and the red Powerball number. The Power Play option allows players to increase their winnings for any winning jackpot, with the exception of the grand prize.
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) January 6, 2016
Grand prize winners have two options for claiming the prize. For Wednesday’s drawing, the winner or winners can choose a cash option of $275.4 million, before taxes, or an annuity, which is worth an estimated $450 million over a period of 29 years.
KFOR News reports the current Powerball jackpot is one of the biggest lottery jackpots in Unitest States history.
The largest jackpot in U.S. history was $656 million, which was awarded in a March 2012 Mega Millions game. Although there were three winners, each player was awarded an $218.6 million.
One of the winners remained anonymous per Kansas law. However, the others winning tickets were sold to Illinois retirees Merle and Patricia Butler and a group of three Maryland friends — who were identified only as the “Three Amigos.”
The largest Powerball jackpot ever awarded was for $509 million in May 2013. The two winning tickets were sold to Missouri couple Cindy and Mark Hill and Arizona resident Matthew Good.
Although winning a Powerball jackpot may seem like a dream come true, some winners have issues dealing with an unexpected windfall.
In 2002, West Virginia resident Andrew Jackson Whittaker Jr. won $315 million in the Powerball game. As he chose the lump-sum option, Whittaker took home $114 million.
Business Insider reports the Andrew lost his entire fortune within a period of four years. In addition to having more than $745,000 in cash stolen out of his vehicle, the former building contractor was sued by Caesar’s Atlantic City, where he wrote an estimated $1.5 million in bad checks.
Although the odds of winning are slim, players have nine ways of winning the Powerball game. In addition to the grand prize, players can win $1 million with five matching white balls without the Powerball. Other prizes, which range between $4 and $50,000, are awarded for combinations of fewer winning numbers with and without the Powerball.
The Multi-State Lottery Association does not offer any practical tips for increasing the odds of choosing the winning Powerball numbers or winning the grand prize. Although they suggest that “buying more tickets will help,” the association admits that “hitting the jackpot is still a question of fate.”
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