Powerball Hits $500 Million Jackpot

A record for the game, Powerball jackpot is at $500 million and expected to climb before tonight's drawing.

Will you try to get lucky tonight? If you purchase a $2 Powerball ticket, you will buy a chance to win one of the lottery’s biggest jackpots of the year. A surge in ticket sales has pushed the Powerball jackpot up to a half-billion dollars.

A record for game, the whopping $500 million jackpot could grow even larger before Wednesday night’s drawing. According to USA Today, lottery officials expect ticket sales to average 6.3 million an hour today.

“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, spokesperson for Northstar Lottery Group, which runs the Illinois State Lottery.

There has been no Powerball winner since Oct. 6, and the millions keep piling up for the big prize. The jackpot was first posted at $425 million but revised upward to $500 million when brisk sales increased the payout.

A total of $200,000 tickets were sold in just 30 minutes in Illinois alone Tuesday, Newton said. 

Wednesday's Powerball jackpot then rose to a record $500 million jackpot, with a cash value option of $327.4 million.

That’s the second highest jackpot in lottery history, right behind the $656 million Mega Millions prize in March, according to Associated Press.

The Powerball drawing will be held at 9:59 p.m. Wednesday. Ticket sales will be cut off one hour before the drawing. Check back after 10 p.m. Wednesday to see the winning numbers.  

The Game

Powerball is a combined large jackpot game and a cash game. Every Wednesday and Saturday night at 9:59 p.m. Central Time, game officials draw five white balls out of a drum with 59 balls and one red ball out of a drum with 35 red balls. Draw sales cut off at least 59 minutes before the draw. Check for local cut-off time.

Odds of winning

The odds of winning the $500 million jackpot is 1-in-175 million chance. According to NBC Chicago, it’s 50 times more likely you’ll be struck by lightning than win the jackpot. But don’t be discourages, 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.

Winner's circle

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.


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