The prize money has risen once again, and now Wednesday’s Powerball jackpot is estimated to be worth $1.4 billion. As people rush out to buy lottery tickets and enter office pools, here is a look at the prizes, odds and winning numbers.
The jackpot started off at a humble $40 million in early November, and 44 states as well as Washington D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, all play. The next drawing will take place Wednesday evening at 10:59 p.m. EST.
If someone comes up with the winning six numbers (the first five numbers are between 1 and 69 and the sixth number is between 1 and 26), they could take home the prize all by themselves, but if more than one ticketholder comes up with the winning numbers, then the prize is divided and everyone adds a few zeros to their balance sheets. Winners have the option of taking a lump sum of over $806 million after taxes or taking annual payments for 29 years.
A second-place prize of $1 million is given to anyone who matches just the first five white ball numbers in any order. Anyone who matches the final red power ball also wins a prize. Full details are available from the Powerball website.
The odds of winning the grand prize are 1 in 292.2 million, while the odds of winning $1 million are slightly better at 1 in 11.6 million. The $1.4 billion drawing is the biggest prize pool in U.S. lottery history. The slim chance of bringing home the jackpot has caused lottery officials to encourage moderation.
“We're very concerned about people playing responsibly and not overspending,” Gary Grief, Texas Lottery’s executive director, told the Associated Press. “It only takes one ticket to win.”
While some people pick their lucky numbers from birthdays and the jersey numbers of their favorite athletes, approximately 95 percent of Powerball tickets sold are computer quick picks, the AP reported. Powerball officials say they do not keep track of which numbers are the most popular but they do keep a full list of winning numbers on the Powerball website.