Hopeful Powerball players who can’t wait to find out of they’ve won the all-time world record $900 million lottery jackpot Saturday night can watch the Powerball drawing live online just before 11 p.m. Eastern Time. By that time, lottery watchers say, the staggering jackpot may have jumped even higher, maybe even hitting a cool billion dollars as Americans with dreams of overnight untold riches line up in heavy numbers to buy tickets.
“Players should watch for further jackpot increases before the Saturday drawing,” wrote Todd Northrup of the Lottery Post on Friday. “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 tickets.”
Each Powerball ticket costs $2. Players can spend an extra dollar on the Power Play option, which increases the value of most non-jackpot prizes.
To find out how to watch the $900 million (at least) Powerball drawing live online, see the streaming link in the final paragraph of this article. The once-in-a-lifetime (so far) lottery drawing takes place at the Powerball national headquarters in Tallahassee, Florida, at 10:59 p.m. Eastern Time, 7:59 p.m. Pacific, on Saturday, January 9.
But before playing, it might be helpful to watch the following news report, explaining what to do if you win the mind-boggling Powerball jackpot Saturday.
Why is the Powerball jackpot hitting world record heights now? The most obvious answer is that no one has matched all five numbers plus the Power Ball number since November 4. But there have been winless streaks of two months or more before, and the previous record Powerball record jackpot was $656 million.
The real reason that the jackpot surged to $900 million nearly 12 hours before the drawing is a complicated rule change in the Powerball game that went into effect last October 7. The change made it much harder for players to win any prize in the Powerball drawing but also boosted the amount of cash that the lottery sets aside to pay out jackpot winnings.
From January of 2012 until October 2015, there were 175,223,510 possible combinations of Powerball numbers. But on October 7, that number went up. Instead of picking five numbers out of 59, plus one of 26 for the Power Ball, players now must select five of 69 numbers.
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The Power Ball options remained at 26, but the change means that the chances of hitting the winning Powerball number sank to one in 292,201,338.
In fact, Powerball is now more difficult to win than its sister game, Mega Millions, which offers odds of one in 258,890,000.
At the same time, Powerball officials upped the percentage of cash derived from ticket sales that goes into the jackpot to approximately 68 percent — up from roughly 64 percent.
But Powerball players should also be aware that the $800 million figure, or whatever it turns out to be by late Saturday night, is merely the advertised jackpot amount for annuity payments.
In other words, a winner can choose to take the $800 million in 30 annual payments that would average about $20 million after federal taxes come off the top, according to the lottery-watching site USA Mega.
“Lump sum” payouts are always a smaller percentage of the advertised jackpot, due to the way Powerball finances jackpots through bond issues. A winner who decides to take all of her or his money in one lump sum will receive a check for $372 million. That’s the “lump sum” payout of $496 million, less $124 million in federal taxes.
Most states also shave a percentage in taxes off the top of lottery prizes. The numbers vary from state-to-state. For example, in New York, a winner will pay 8.82 percent — or an additional $43,747,200 — in taxes leaving the take-home amount at $342,240,000.
But winners in California and several other states will pay no state tax at all on the record Powerball jackpot or any lottery prize.
The Saturday, January 9, Powerball drawing will mark only the sixth time in U.S. lottery history that players could hit a jackpot of at least half-a-billion — with a “b” — dollars. And it could become the first lottery jackpot to hit a billion. To watch the historic Powerball drawing live online streaming video, visit the Powerball Live site by clicking on this link.
[Photo via Florida State Lottery]