Powerball fever sweeping the nation
UPDATE: Will roll to $900 million if nobody wins tonight
By Todd Northrop
As if $425 million or $500 million isn't enough, the Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL) announced today that tonight's Powerball jackpot has been increased again — to $550 Million.
Lottery Post reported yesterday that Powerball tickets have been selling nationally at a pace of more than 100,000 tickets per minute (see Powerball selling 100,000 tickets per minute, Lottery Post, Nov. 27, 2012).
This continuous, massive stream of ticket buying has prompted MUSL to increase the estimated annuity jackpot for tonight to a knee-weakening $550 million, with a cash option of $360.2 million.
And the final jackpot tally after all the sales are counted will likely exceed that number, sinced lotteries typically post conservative jackpot estimates prior to the drawing.
Surely, tickets are being sold at such a rapid pace that the vast majority of all possible number combinations are being covered — multiple times for many combinations — but one still has to ask: what if just one person wins $360 million in cash? It's hard for most people to even picture a number that large, let alone manage that much cash.
Perhaps more interesting to imagine is, what if nobody wins tonight?
Well, we actually know, because MUSL has announced that if no one matches the winning numbers in tonight's drawing, the jackpot will roll to an estimated $900 million for Saturday's drawing.
And with the inevitable increases in jackpot size before the drawing, we will likely see the world's first billion-dollar lottery jackpot. If nobody wins tonight.
Lottery players seeking to check the winning numbers Wednesday night are urged to use USA Mega (www.usamega.com). State lottery Web sites are normally brought to a standstill during busy periods, while USA Mega normally remains responsive.
Powerball drawing results will be posted immediately after the 10:59 pm drawing at USA Mega. The number of winners and new jackpot will be announced after all participating Powerball states have reported their data, which normally occurs within a couple of hours after the drawing.
Tickets will remain on sale until around 10:00 pm Eastern Time on Wednesday, although players should check with a lottery retailer in their state for the exact sales cutoff time. Players are advised not to wait until the last minute.
The odds of winning the jackpot are approximately 1 in 175 million. The odds of winning any of the Powerball prizes are approximately 1 in 32.
Lottery players can see an after-tax analysis of the current Powerball jackpot by visiting USA Mega's Jackpot Analysis page.
Powerball features nine different prize levels, ranging from $4 all the way up to the jackpot. Players can win even if they just match one number — the Powerball number.
States also offer the Power Play option for an extra dollar per ticket purchased. The Power Play multiplies any non-jackpot prizes won by a fixed amount, depending on the prize level won.
Players who purchase the Power Play and win second prize will automatically have their prize increased by 2x to $2 million.