Powerball Jackpot Reaches Unprecedented Amount


By Anne Szmul,
Domestic News Writer

The most recent Powerball payout from two weeks agoset records for highest jackpot in North America. Ultimately valued at $1,586,000,000—almost 1.6 billion dollars—while the Powerball fell short of the title of world’s greatest jackpot, it still managed to draw massive attention nationwide.

Wednesday’s drawing of the numbers, 4, 8, 19, 27, 34, and the Powerball of 10, saw three winners. The winning tickets were sold in Chino Hills, California, Munford, Tennessee, and Melbourne Beach, Florida. Each store that sold a winning ticket received as much as one million dollars.

Two payment options exist for the winners. Should they decide to accept the winnings as a 30 year investment, each would receive annuity payments totaling $533 million. Should they choose the cash option  they would claim their third of $983.5 million in cash. State and local taxes do not deduct from the individuals’ winnings, as Florida and Tennessee have no state income tax, and California exempts winnings from taxation if the ticket was purchased in-state. Federal income taxes would still apply, topped out at 39.6 percent. Experts advise the trio to take care in revealing themselves and to look into security and financial council to avoid bankruptcy and poor decisions that often accompany sudden wealth.

Beginning on Nov. 4, the jackpot has seen small payouts along the way. 75 percent of the possible combinations were taken before the drawing for $806 million on Jan. 9. After no winning ticket was sold for that Saturday’s drawing, lottery officials estimated that the pot would grow to a 1.3 billion dollar value as lottery regulars were joined by eager individuals, hoping to cash in on their luck. According to ABC News, Sally Lunsford, Director of Public Affairs for the Kansas Lottery, said that the winning draw doled out “eight $2 million Power Play winners and 73 $1 million winners nationwide who matched all five white balls but missed the red Powerball.”

Texas Lottery executive director, Gary Grief, said in an interview with The Washington Post that prior to the Wednesday drawing,  he had expected more than  80 percent of possible combinations to be covered. Of all tickets, 95 percent of the numbers are computer generated.

Powerball is a lottery game held by 44 participating states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. It is run by a non-profit organization and has a minimum jackpot of $40 million, to be paid out either as an annuity or in cash. Picking five out of 69 white balls and one out of 26 Powerballs makes the odds of matching all six numbers one  in 292,201,338.

Many sources and lottery employees touted the monstrous $1.6 billion as the “world’s largest.” More factual, however, was the decision by Reuters to dub the pot as North America’s biggest pool (as the elGordo lottery in Spain reached three billion euros, a much higher payout). Ultimately issuing 2.2 billion euros, the pot was split between thousands of winners. Part of the reason this lottery accumulated to such a large amount is that it is open to anyone worldwide and is a Christmas tradition dating back to 1812. According to CNN, the tickets cost 200 euros ($218) each and are often bought by groups or given by companies to employees as gifts.

With such huge winnings, it is no surprise that the lottery received viral attention. A meme calculating the Powerball of $1.3 billion divided by a rounded estimate of the United States population of 300 million arrived at the conclusion that everyone would receive $4.33 million. Unfortunately, the math was grossly incorrect. A counter meme was quickly introduced, informing social media users that each person would only receive $4.33., enough only to buy a cup of coffee or a calculator!

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, January 26th print edition.

Contact Anne at



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