DES MOINES, Iowa — The largest U.S. lottery jackpot in history remains at stake following Saturday night’s Powerball drawing rollover. No ticket matched all six numbers to claim the $949.8 million jackpot, boosting Wednesday’s jackpot to a whopping $1.3 billion. The winning numbers were 16-19-32-34-57 and the Powerball number 13. All six numbers must be correct to win, although the first five can be in any order. Sales for Saturday night’s drawing had been robust, with people in 44 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico all getting into the mix.
Officials with the Multi-State Lottery Association, which runs the Powerball game, said they expected about 75 percent of the possible number combinations would have been bought for Saturday night’s drawing.
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.
The U.S. saw sales of $277 million on Friday alone and more than $400 million were expected Saturday, according to Gary Grief, the executive director of the Texas Lottery.
The record jackpot lured an unprecedented frenzy of purchases. Anndrea Smith, 30, said Saturday that she already had spent more than she usually does on Powerball tickets.
“I bought four yesterday, and I usually never buy any,” said Smith, manager of Bucky’s gas station and convenience store in Omaha, Nebraska. She’s not alone, saying the store sold “about $5,000 worth of tickets yesterday. Usually on a Friday, we might sell $1,200 worth.”
Here’s what you need to know about the Powerball:
HOW DID WE GET HERE?
The jackpot for the twice-weekly game started at $40 million on Nov. 4 and has been growing ever since. Because the payout is based on sales, the prize grows as people rush to a shot at millions.
YOUR ODDS: POOR
A $2 ticket gives you a one in 292.2 million chance at joining the hall of Powerball champions.
THE PAYOFF: HUGE, EVEN AFTER TAXES
A winner would have the option of being paid $1.3 billion through annual payments over 29 years or opting for one $806 million cash payment. But 39.6 percent of the lump sum would go to federal income taxes.
Plus, most states would take a chunk — something winners in Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming wouldn’t have to worry about. California and Pennsylvania exempt lottery winnings from income taxes if the ticket was bought in-state.
“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.”
SHARING IS CARING
Some people feel that pooling their money with co-workers will improve their chance of winning — but with such tiny odds, adding 50 or 100 chances doesn’t give you a leg up. And if your group is lucky, lottery officials recommend preventing hard feelings by putting in writing how you plan to split the prize, since it’s easy for misunderstandings to crop up when hundreds of millions of dollars are at stake.
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