By Todd Northrop
Lottery players looking to start off 2016 by with a bang might want to consider purchasing a Powerball ticket this week.
For only the third time this year, the multi-state Powerball lottery jackpot has crossed the $300 million level, which traditionally triggers a substantial up-tick in lottery ticket sales.
Wednesday's $300 million jackpot was achieved after no winning tickets were sold for Saturday night's $255 million grand prize.
The lump-sum cash payout value of Saturday's Powerball jackpot is $184.2 million — the 21st-largest ever recorded in United States lottery history.
Players looking to calculate what they would receive after the initial federal and state tax withholdings can find it all pre-calculated for each Powerball jurisdiction on the Jackpot Analysis page at USA Mega, a web site devoted to the Powerball and Mega Millions multi-state lottery games.
The largest Powerball jackpot ever awarded was on May 18, 2013, when Gloria C. MacKenzie of Zephyrhills, Florida, held the solitary winning ticket for a grand prize worth nearly $600 million (see Winner of record $590.5 million Powerball lottery jackpot announced, Lottery Post, June 5, 2013).
Wednesday's grand prize is the result of 15 consecutive draws without a winner. The run-up started as a $40 million prize on Nov. 7.
The winning numbers for Saturday, December 26, 2015 were 27, 40, 44, 59, and 65, with Powerball number 20. The Power Play number was 2.
In addition to the jackpot remaining intact Saturday night, there were also no second prize winners of $1,000,000. Second prize is won by matching the first five numbers but not the Powerball number.
21 tickets matched four white numbers plus the Powerball and won $50,000. Of those tickets, 1 was purchased with the Power Play option, increasing the prize to $100,000.
Power Play is not available in California, because the fixed nature of the prize increase offered in Power Play is not compatible with California's pari-mutuel payouts. By law, California awards all prizes on a pari-mutuel basis, meaning the prizes will change each drawing based on the number of tickets sold and the number of tickets that won at each prize level.
Following the Saturday drawing, the Powerball annuity jackpot estimate was raised $45 million from its previous amount of $255 million. The cash value was raised by $25.8 million from its previous amount of $158.4 million.
The next Powerball drawing will take place Wednesday day night at 10:59 pm Eastern Time.
When a Powerball ticket is purchased with the Power Play option for an extra $1 per ticket, any non-jackpot prize is increased according to a fixed prize schedule, which can be found on the Powerball Drawing Detail page at USA Mega, as well as on the Powerball Prize Payouts page at Lottery Post.
Powerball is now played in 44 states, plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Drawings are Wednesdays and Saturdays at 10:59 p.m. Eastern Time. Tickets cost $2 each.
Powerball lottery results are published within minutes of the drawing at USA Mega (www.usamega.com). The USA Mega Web site provides lottery players in-depth information about the United States's two biggest multi-state lottery games, Mega Millions and Powerball.