The Powerball numbers picked in the Wednesday, January 22 drawing failed to match a single ticket. It has now been one month since anyone won the 45-state Powerball lottery, meaning the jackpot is starting to edge toward the astronomical numbers that generate long lines at every local 7-11 and retail outlet that sells lottery tickets.
Last night’s numbers were 1, 2, 7, 9 and 55 with a Powerball number of 29. Odds of matching all six numbers are more than 175 million to one. But last night, three lucky lottery players matched the first five digits.
Each of those winners, one each in Calilfornia, Indiana and New York, will collect a $1 million prize. Nothing to sneeze at, of course, but still a far cry from the top jackpot.
Saturday’s jackpot is expected to top $152 million, The San Jose Mercury News reports. So if you’ve got some money to burn, now might be a good time to blow it on Powerball tickets. As always, be careful not to bet more than you can afford to lose, which in these economic times is usually no more than a few bucks for most of us.
Now, bear in mind that the Powerball numbers are drawn at random and there is nothing anyone can do to increase the odds of winning — except buy more tickets. Obviousy if one ticket has a 1 in 175 million chance of winning — 1 in 175,223,510 to be precise — then two tickets gives you a 2 in 175 million chance, and so on.
But there are a few things you should know in case you are one of the lucky ones — extremely lucky ones — who takes home a big prize.
As Forbes Magazine points out, even winning millions by hitting the Powerball numbers is no guarantee that you’ll be financially set for life. Well, it is if you’re smart — but a lot of people, let’s face it, are not very smart. A quick Google search will turn up plenty of stories of big winners who lost everything. One $16 million winner’s brother even put out a hit on him.
Forbes warns that the best thing you can do if you win is remain anonymous. Not every state allows this, but if possible, keep the lowest profile you can. Human nature being what it is, from the moment people find out you’ve hit those Powerball numbers, as Forbes notes, “you’ll be badgered by requests for handouts from everyone from charities to long-lost friends and relatives — not to mention all the financial ‘experts’ who will be vying for your business.”
One money-grubber you won’t be able to avoid, even if you stay anonymous, is Uncle Sam. Forbes strongly advises consulting with a trusted tax expert not after you receive your winnings, but before. The federal government will take almost 40 percent off the top of your jackpot and state and local governments will usually take a slice of the pie as well.
But there could even be other taxes on top of that. Get the facts — then cash in your ticket.
And perhaps the most important piece of advice: keep your Powerball ticket in a safe place! Lottery tickets are “bearer documents.” That means, whoever holds the ticket collects the money, even if the ticket was lost or stolen.
So if you hit the $152 million on Saturday, make sure you know where your winning ticket is at all times. Without it, you lose — even if you hit all six Powerball numbers.