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No Powerball Winner, Jackpot Likely to Hit $1.3 Billion

  • VOA News

Host Sam Arlen speaks as the winning Powerball numbers are about to be drawn at the Florida Lottery studio in Tallahassee, Florida, Jan. 9, 2016.

Host Sam Arlen speaks as the winning Powerball numbers are about to be drawn at the Florida Lottery studio in Tallahassee, Florida, Jan. 9, 2016.

The already staggering U.S. "Powerball" jackpot is expected to top a record $1 billion after none of the tickets sold matched all six numbers (32, 16, 19, 57, 34, and Powerball 13) from Saturday's drawing.

The odds of winning the $949.8 million jackpot was 1 in 292.2 million, according to the Multi-State Lottery Association, which runs the draw.

Millions of Americans who spent their hard-earned money on the multi-state lottery with dreams of becoming an instant millionaire will likely go online or flock to their neighborhood Powerball ticket sellers in 44 states, Washington, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands for a chance to win next Wednesday's drawing, which is expected to reach $1.3 billion by the time the winning numbers are announced.

A sign displays the estimated Powerball lottery jackpot amount at a gas station in Dallas, Texas, Jan. 9, 2016.

A sign displays the estimated Powerball lottery jackpot amount at a gas station in Dallas, Texas, Jan. 9, 2016.

The lottery has continued to grow as no one has owned the winning combination in a succession of drawings going back to early November, when it stood at $40 million. Powerball drawings are held twice a week.

The lucky winner could choose to receive annual payments over the next 30 years, or a one-time, lump sum payment - minus the 39 percent federal income tax imposed on all winnings, plus any state and local taxes.

The biggest lottery jackpot ever won in the United States happened in March 2012 when three ticket holders in Kansas, Illinois and Maryland shared $656 million in the Mega Millions lottery. The biggest Powerball jackpot won was $590 million in May 2013 by a ticket buyer in Florida, according to the Associated Press.

Even people who do not normally feel inclined to play said they didn't want to lose this opportunity.

"When the jackpot gets that large, you have no choice but to play it, in my mind,” said Kevin Ramseur during his lunch hour in Washington, D.C. “I rarely play the lotto, the lottery or the Powerball, but when the jackpot gets over $300 million, I usually buy a few tickets."

Slim, slim, slim odds

The odds of winning were 1 in 292.2 million, according to the Multi-State Lottery Association, which runs the draw. Statisticians say it is easier to get hit by lightning while simultaneously drowning.

Customers wait in line to buy Powerball lottery tickets in Hawthorne, Calif., on Jan. 8, 2016.

Customers wait in line to buy Powerball lottery tickets in Hawthorne, Calif., on Jan. 8, 2016.

Despite the tiny, minimal, almost impossible likelihood of winning the lottery, many people are to spending their cash on tickets.

"I would pay off my husband's student loan debt, mine, my brother's. I'd buy my parents a house, maybe one for me," said Alicia Swenson, who had just gotten a ticket.

Other people say the jackpot is far too much money for one person.

"To be honest with you, I'd probably give most of it away," said Anthony Jenkins, adding that there are hundreds of people in need who he could help.

Most people, however, have a wide-ranging list of ways to splurge.

Michelle Jerman is one of them. She said the first thing she would do is pay Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to drop out of the race. But then ...

"I want to buy a house, an island, some cars,” she said. “I want to buy a college for my daughter… and I want to name it after her. Maybe a few shopping malls."

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