Update, 11:25 a.m.: Powerball officials say the jackpot is now at $550 million!
Jozefa S. is an Illinois State Lottery winner with a bit of advice on playing the lottery: “You can’t win if you don’t play so go ahead and play.”
A lot of people will be paying $2 for a Powerball ticket in one of the lottery’s biggest jackpots of the year. The Powerball jackpot is now $500 million and may grow larger by tonight's drawing, lottery officials said.
“When (the jackpot) is this large, it’s not unusual for the jackpot to go up. I wouldn’t be surprised if it gets pumped up again,” said Chanele Newton, a Northstar Lottery Group spokesman. Northstar runs the Illinois State Lottery.
A total of 200,000 tickets were sold in a half-hour span Tuesday in Illinois alone, Newton said.
There has been no Powerball winner since Oct. 6, and the jackpot already has reached a record level for the game, the Associated Press reports. It was first posted at $425 million but revised upward to $500 million when brisk sales increased the payout. It's the second-highest jackpot in lottery history, behind only the $656 million Mega Millions prize in March, according to AP.
Powerball tickets doubled in price in January to $2, and while the number of tickets sold initially dropped, sales revenue has increased by about 35 percent over 2011, the AP reports.
Sales for Powerball reached a record $3.96 billion in fiscal 2012 and are expected to reach $5 billion this year, said Chuck Strutt, executive director of the Des Moines, Iowa-based Multi-State Lottery Association, the group that runs the Powerball game.
Odds of winning
The odds of winning the $500 million jackpot is 1-in-175 million. But the odds of matching the red Powerball number is much better; 1 in 55 and would win you $4, which you can then roll into the next jackpot.
Five Tips for Lottery Pools
If you are trying to boost the odds of winning by playing in an office lottery pool, take heed of a few tips from the Illinois State Lottery:
- Know the rules of your pool and put it in writing.
- Get copies of your tickets.
- The ticket purchaser must designate personally-purchased tickets prior to a drawing.
- Get names and phone numbers of everyone in the pool.
- Know where and when the tickets were purchased.
The Illinois State Lottery’s website has more details.
The cash value payout of a $500 million jackpot is $327 million. After taxes, that amount you would walk away with is $229 million, Newton said.
“As soon as you get your ticket, sign your name in case you win,” she said.
Illinois State Lottery provides a handbook for winners that answers questions about payout, estate planning and financial advising.
What can you buy with a $500 million jackpot?
If you need some inspiration, check out the Neiman Marcus Christmas catalog's fantasy gifts. This year’s edition features a MP4-12C Spider at a cost of $354,000 and dinner for 10 with four famous chefs at $250,000. How about a $150,000 tailgate trailer or his and her watches with a trip to Paris and Geneva for $1 million?
Advice a lottery winner
“Get a ticket. Give it a try,” said George T. of Chicago, who won $250,000 in Mega Millions. “And I think Quick Picks are the best because that’s how I won $250,000. I’m a quarter-of-a-millionaire.”
The Powerball drawing will be held at 9:59 p.m. Wednesday.
What would you do with a $500 million jackpot? Tell us in the comments!