Excitement is building for Wednesday night’s Powerball drawing, after the jackpot for the multi-state lottery hit $1 billion for only the third time in history.
The rich Powerball payout, and a Mega Millions jackpot sitting at a whopping $720 million, have spurred a frenzy of ticket sales at convenience stores and gas stations across the country.
It is only the fifth time the jackpots of both drawings have exceeded $500 million at the same time, and the combined payout of $1.72 billion is the fifth-largest in history, according to data provided to DailyMail.com by Lottery Critic.
Though the massive jackpots are spurring feverish dreams of wild riches, experts warn to play responsibly, and note that buying more than one ticket does little to improve the chance of winning.
For example, buying one Powerball ticket for $2 gives you a 1 in 292.2 million chance of winning the jackpot, but spending $20 for ten tickets improves your chances to only 10 in 292.2 million — odds that remain extremely miniscule.
A handwritten sign is seen in New York as the Powerball jackpot hit $1 billion for tonight’s drawing, while the Mega Millions jackpot rose to $720 million after nobody won on Tuesday
People wait in line to purchase Powerball tickets Wednesday in Hawthorne, California
The odds for the two big lotteries are so long that it’s certainly not worth spending money you’ll miss for additional tickets, experts warn.
If a winning ticket is sold, the $1 billion jackpot for Wednesday’s Powerball drawing would be the seventh highest in US history and the third largest for the game.
If only one player picks all five numbers plus the Powerball number drawn, they have the option of taking the $1 billion prize in yearly increments paid out over 29 years or a $516.8 million one-time lump sum before taxes.
Lottery Critic offers a calculator for estimating the lump sum payout amount and potential tax liabilities for Powerball jackpots and other lotteries.
The last time someone won the Powerball jackpot was April 19, when a ticket sold in Macedonia, Ohio won a top prize of nearly $253 million. That ticket has yet to be claimed.
The last MegaMillions winner was one day earlier, on April 18, when a winning ticket for $20 million was sold in Syracuse, New York to a person who claimed it anonymously.
Since then, no one has won the grand prize in either lottery. The jackpots will keep growing until someone wins.
Jazz singer Morganne Picard buys Powerball tickets at Joe’s Service Center, a Mobil gas station owner in Altadena, California that previously sold the $2.04 billion-winning Powerball ticket
A cashier looks at a Powerball ticket Wednesday in California. The last time someone won the Powerball jackpot was April 19, when a ticket sold in Macedonia, Ohio won a top prize
Though the massive jackpots are spurring feverish dreams of wild riches, experts warn that buying more than one ticket does little to improve the chance of winning
The Mega Millions jackpot rose to $720 million after nobody won Tuesday’s drawing, marking the fifth largest payout in the lottery’s history.
Lottery jackpots have been growing larger in recent years, after changes that made the odds longer and winning more difficult.
In 2015, the Powerball lottery lengthened the odds of winning from 1 in 175.2 million to 1 in 292.2 million.
Mega Millions followed two years later, lengthened the odds of winning the top prize from 1 in 258.9 million to 1 in 302.6 million.
The largest lottery payout in US history was a whopping $2.04 billion Powerball jackpot that hit on November 8, 2022, with the winning ticket sold in California.
The largest Mega Millions jackpot was $1.537 billion won by an anonymous player in South Carolina on October 23, 2018.
If your Powerball ticket is the winner on Wednesday, experts say the first step is to put it in a secure place, such as a fireproof safe or bank safety deposit box.
Then you should start putting your ‘team’ together, said Shean Fletcher, a wealth adviser in Kansas City, Missouri, in an Associated Press interview.
Liz Huston, a contemporary mixed media artist, smiles after buying Powerball tickets
In New York City, a sign announces a Powerball jackpot exceeding $1 billion as a man leaves the store with his lottery tickets Wednesday
A woman holds Powerball lottery tickets inside a store in Homestead, Florida on Wednesday
Largest combined Powerball/Mega Millions jackpots
- October 24, 2018: $2,220,000,000
- November 7, 2022: $2,054,000,000
- January 16, 2023: $1,766,000,000
- January 20, 2021: $1,730,000,000
- July 19, 2023: $1,720,000,000
- July 27, 2022: $1,425,000,000
- October 12, 2022: $915,000,000
- April 19, 2020: $727,000,000
That likely includes your closest, most trusted family members, as well as a financial adviser, lawyer and certified public accountant.
Then, you can start making plans about how to claim the prize and what you want to do with the money.
‘After the initial excitement, you know, take a deep breath and take it slow,’ Fletcher said.
Some states allow lottery winners to claim jackpots anonymously, and others have loopholes that allow winners to shield their identity with an LLC.
Another thing to keep in mind is that huge jackpots also bring huge tax bills, Fletcher said.
Not just on the money itself, but high-dollar houses, cars, planes and other property also usually come with big recurring tax and upkeep bills.
The idea that lottery winners can just spend lots of money daily forever is a fallacy that has seen more than one lottery winner blow through their winnings, said Fletcher.
‘So by far, the biggest misconception that we hear or read and see is, is that the money seems to be infinite when it certainly is not,’ Fletcher said.