Largest Powerball jackpot ever climbs to $1.3 billion

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Image courtesy of MGN online.

(AP) – The jackpot is still growing after no one claimed to have a winning ticket following Saturday night’s Powerball drawing.  The odds were slim, but no ticket matched all six numbers to claim the already whopping jackpot of $949.8 million.

The next drawing is Wednesday and the prize has soared to $1.3 billion dollars.

The unclaimed numbers from last nights game were 16-19-32-34-57 and the Powerball number was the unlucky 13.  All six numbers must be correct to win, but the first five numbers could be drawn in any order.

People from all over the country bought tickets sold in 44 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

Since Alabama is one of the six states that doesn’t participate in the lottery program, here are some things to know about Powerball.

The Odds:  Poor

A $2 ticket gives you a 1 in 292.2 million chance at joining the hall of Powerball champions.  It’s a slim chance, but you can’t win if you don’t play.

The Payoff:  Huge, even after taxes

A winner would have two options after striking it rich.  The first option is being paid $1.3 billion dollars through an annual payment over the next 29 years.  The second option is taking a reduced lump-sum payment of $806 million in cold hard cash.  The government would want a share in your good fortune too. Taxes on your winnings would be 39.6 percent of the lump-sum.

“Almost everyone chooses the lump sum, but you do take a pretty significant hit,” says 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

There are lots of offices out there that pool money with co-workers to improve the odds of winning.  The odds are so astronomically small that adding 50 or even 100 chances won’t even put a dent them.  If your group just happens to strike it rich, be sure to put it in writing how you plant to split the prize to prevent hard feelings and misunderstandings.  It’s easy for that to happen when hundreds of millions of dollars are at stake.

What would you do if you won the Powerball prize?  We can only dream about it and maybe one lucky winner will get to realize those dreams this Wednesday night.