What You Need to Know Before Winning the Powerball Jackpot

powerballWith the Powerball lottery jackpot bigger than it has ever been, and with an estimated jackpot of 1.3 billion dollars, it is no wonder many people are willing to shell out a few bucks for a ticket and the chance to daydream about striking it really, really rich.


But before you start planning for your fabulous life as brand-new billionaire, there are some things you should know about the Powerball lottery:

1. Wednesday's jackpot is estimated to be the biggest ever, by more than $500 million dollars, for an American lottery. It is not the biggest lottery jackpot in history, however. That honor belongs to Spain's El Gordo, which had a 2.4 billion jackpot.

2. The Powerball is played in 44 states, as well as in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia. Sorry, residents of Utah, Nevada, Mississippi, Alabama, Alaska, and Hawaii: The odds will never be in your favor.

3. The odds of winning the big prize in this week's drawing are 1 in 292,201,338. So, not good. You have a better chance of being struck by lightning, being elected president of the United States, or getting bit by a snake on your birthday.

4. The odds of winning $4.00, however, aren't so bad: 1 in 38.32. Investing the $2 for your ticket in the stock market would likely give you a $4 return in about 10 years.

5. If you are planning on buying tickets, you are not alone. This past weekend, at its peak, more than $1.2 million in tickets were bought every single minute. You have until two hours before the jackpot to get your $2 tickets purchased. You'll probably need to purchase them in person, as most states don't allow for online purchases.

6. If you win the $1.3 billion but choose to take the lump sum (where you'd get all your cash at once instead of paid out over 29 years), you'd only be walking away with $806 million, before taxes. Something tells me most of us could live with that.

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7. Speaking of taxes, you'd be looking at owing Uncle Sam over $300 million of your winnings. This amount varies by state, with residents of Florida, New Hampshire, Tennessee, Texas, South Dakota, and Washington faring better than the rest of us thanks to not having state income taxes.

8. If you win and you want to be generous, you can give away up to $5 million dollars without having to pay gift taxes and you can also give tax-free gifts of $14,000 to as many friends and family members as you'd like with no penalty. Something tells me you'll be very popular!

9. Don't want to get hit up for money? Too bad. According to most state laws, the name and city of residence for lottery winners is public information. A few states even require your picture to be public. So, if you are thinking of winning, you might want to get that unlisted phone number and P.O. box now!

10. If you do win, you'll get your money within two weeks of claiming your prize -- just enough time to give your two weeks' notice at work!


Image via iStock.com/adventtr

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