There were no Powerball winners after Saturday’s winning numbers were picked, sending the next jackpot soaring to more than $1.3 billion.
The winning numbers for Saturday were 16-19-32-34-57 and the Powerball number 13. Within about an hour of the 1o:59 p.m. drawing, lottery officials had determined that there were no jackpot winners, extending the streak and pushing the already record breaking jackpot to a new tier.
By the time Saturday’s numbers were picked, the jackpot had already reached $949.8 million, which was the largest prize ever in the United States.
— Texas Lottery (@TexasLottery) January 10, 2016
— Good Morning America (@GMA) January 10, 2016
The United States has already been gripped in several days of Powerball fever, and while the odds of winning the Powerball are 1 in 292.2 million, that doesn’t stop players from dreaming. The Los Angeles Times tracked down a few to ask what they would do if they ended up with the winning Powerball numbers.
“If I don’t drop dead of a heart attack, I’ll finish the work I’m doing now and maybe take a vacation,” said attorney John Belferman.
But Belferman and the rest of the millions who put down $2 to fill out a Powerball ticket will have to wait. It has now been more than two full months since the last jackpot winner on November 4.
As the Los Angeles Times noted, Powerball officials had already planned for this.
“Since Nov. 4, the Powerball jackpot has grown from its $40 million starting point as no one has won the jackpot. Such a huge jackpot was just what officials with the Multi-State Lottery Association, which runs the Powerball game, hoped for last fall when they changed the odds of matching all the Powerball numbers, from about one in 175 million to one in 292.2 million. By making it harder to win a jackpot, the tougher odds made the ever-larger prizes inevitable.”
With no winning Powerball tickets sold for Saturday’s drawing, it isn’t clear yet just how far Wednesday’s jackpot could reach. Saturday’s total climbed quickly, with an announcement shortly before the drawing that it topped $900 million.
For a winning ticket, that translates to a one-time cash payment of $558 million, of which about 40 percent would go to federal income taxes. Though winners would end up getting more by taking the 29-year installments, lotto experts say that’s not a very popular option.
“Almost everyone chooses the lump sum, but you do take a pretty significant hit,” said Mark Luscombe, principal federal tax analyst for Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting. “I guess people just feel they can do better than waiting 30 years to get all their money.”
The jackpot crossing ten figures for the first time ever is sure to send millions of people heading to stores to pick up a ticket, but experts say there’s no point going crazy with how many they buy.
“The odds are so astronomically small that even 100 times that number is exceedingly unlikely to win,” Scott A. Norris, an assistant professor of mathematics at Southern Methodist University, told Al.com. “It’s probably still not going to happen if you buy a hundred tickets or a thousand tickets or even a million tickets.”
Norris does have one piece of advice, though.
“Norris said there’s no trick to playing the lottery, but your tiny odds of winning are a bit better if you let the computer pick rather than choosing yourself. That’s because when people use birth dates or other favorite figures, they generally choose numbers 31 or below. That ignores the fact that there are 69 numbered balls.”
So those who missed out on Saturday’s Powerball drawing will now have four days to get out and pick up a ticket. For some help, here is a list of sellers by state, and some information about buying Powerball tickets online for those in states that don’t have the lottery.
[Picture by Scott Olson/Getty Images]