Editor’s Note: The Powerball jackpot was re-estimated at approximately 11.00am EST and has risen to an incredible $1.5 billion!
Powerball fever has gripped America and beyond as players look to pocket a jackpot the likes of which has never been seen before in a lottery anywhere in the world. The Powerball jackpot for Wednesday 13th January currently stands at $1.4 billion and could rise even higher depending on sales over the next two working days.
Players are flocking to retailers and besieging online lottery concierge services with requests for tickets for the record-breaking draw on Wednesday night, but how much do you know about America’s biggest jackpot game? Here are the answers to some common Powerball questions.
Is it better to buy a Quick Pick or choose your own lottery numbers?
Powerball Quick Picks let the computer choose you a completely random selection of numbers is a popular way of playing this lottery game. Roughly 70 to 80 percent of all Powerball plays are Quick Picks and official sources report between 70 and 80 percent of winners were from computer-generated tickets, which would suggest your chances are fairly even between the two methods of entering.
The advantage of using a Quick Pick is that it stops you from falling into the trap of choosing numbers based around birthdays or calendar dates which, by definition, can only go up to 31. This means you are instantly excluded from winning the jackpot if any white balls between 32 and 69 are drawn. In addition, if the balls all happen to be below 31 you could win, but you are more likely to have to share your prize as this is a common method of choosing your Powerball numbers.
Will the winner receive the full $1.4 billion Powerball jackpot?
If only one player matches all five white numbers and the Powerball on Wednesday night, they will have the opportunity to choose cash payment or an annuity. The latter option would see them receive the full $1.4 billion if they choose to accept the prize in 30 payments over 29 years. However, they will be liable for state and federal taxes on each instalment as lottery winnings are counted as taxable income in the US. The winner can also opt to take a lump sum cash payment, which currently stands at $868 million, which would also be subject to taxation.
Is it better to take the annuity or the cash option?
Winners are encouraged to take financial advice over whether the cash or annuity options would be best for them as it is dependent on their personal circumstances. Obviously, older winners might prefer to take the cash to enjoy the winnings while they can, although annuities are treated as assets and can be transferred to another person in the winner’s will. They can also be cashed out and added to the deceased’s estate before it is divided.
Annuities are guaranteed and are a great option for those who want to ensure they don’t blow the lot in one go, whereas some winners who take the cash option do so believing they can earn more than the annuity amount through shrewd investments. That is certainly possible, but not without risk. Another reason to take a cash payment is that it allows you to purchase big ticket items, like a dream mansion, outright without having to save up or take out a mortgage.
You have 60 days from presenting your winning ticket to lottery officials to decide between the cash and annuity payments.
Do you have a better chance of winning if fewer people play Powerball?
The odds of matching all five white balls and the Powerball remain at 292.2 million to 1 whenever you play the game. You are not competing against other ticket holders, but rather taking on the odds of matching the correct combination from the 69 main numbers and 26 Powerballs. Whether the top prize is $40 million or $1.4 billion, the odds remain constant.
You can buy Powerball tickets from authorised retailers across the US and online, wherever you are, through the Lotto Tickets page. Remember to snap up your potential $1.4 billion entries in good time to avoid the rush and sit back with your fingers crossed tightly ahead of Wednesday’s gigantic draw!