Wednesday's Giant Jackpot Follows Huge Mega Millions Run From Earlier This Year
DES MOINES, Iowa - The jackpot for Wednesday's Powerball drawing has entered historic territory, and players in Iowa and across the country are definitely feeling the excitement. Strong sales have pushed the jackpot to an estimated $425 million annuity ($278.3 million cash) for Wednesday's drawing. That's the largest prize ever offered in the Powerball game, and follows a monster Mega Millions run from earlier this year. The Mega Millions jackpot hit $656 million before it was won on March 30, with that big prize split between three tickets in Illinois, Kansas and Maryland.
The Powerball jackpot was last won in the drawing on Oct. 3, so it has been growing for nearly two months. Strong sales across the country are the reason the prize is taking big jumps now - Wednesday's jackpot will have grown nearly $100 million from Saturday's $327 million prize.
The previous jackpot record in Powerball was a $365 million prize won in February 2006 by eight co-workers at a Nebraska meatpacking plant.
Putting The Numbers In Perspective
That $425 million prize is definitely a lot of money. Here's some perspective on that number:
How Do I Play?
The huge jackpot is attracting a lot of first-time players. Here’s how to play, if you're just getting in: Powerball players choose five numbers from a pool of 59 numbers and another number - the Powerball - from a separate pool of 35. Plays cost $2 and you can choose your own numbers or let the terminal generate a play for you by asking for an easy pick.
Players who purchase the Power Play option for an additional $1 per play can increase their winnings (except for the jackpot) by up to four times the amount.
Drawings are held at 9:59 p.m. on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Does One Person Really Need All That Money?
When the jackpot really gets up there like it is now, we at the lottery start to hear from folks who say that one person doesn't need all that money. They suggest that when it gets this high, the jackpot should be split into smaller chunks that could be won by multiple people. But the fact is that people vote with their pocketbooks on this issue, and sales follow the jackpot up. The bigger the jackpot gets, the higher sales go. So it seems that a whole lot of people do want all that money to themselves! (But don't forget it is possible for more than one ticket to win the jackpot, in which case, it will be split.)
A Few Words About Office Pools
As the work week resumes Monday following the long Thanksgiving holiday weekend, a lot of folks may be thinking about forming office pools or buying tickets with friends, family and neighbors. It's a fun thing to do, and hey, you don't want to be the only person still at work Thursday when everyone else has won, right? The Iowa Lottery offers these reminders to keep your pool play fun and hassle free:
Please Play Responsibly
Iowa Lottery CEO Terry Rich predicts high sales in Iowa this week and reminds everyone to play responsibly. "As you've probably heard us say before, 'Remember to play with your head not over your head,'" Rich said. "The fun of our games is that you can do a lot of dreaming for just a few dollars."
About the Jackpot
The Powerball jackpot starts at a guaranteed $40 million and grows from there until it's won. Jackpot winners in the game can choose to receive their prize as a one-time, lump-sum payment or in 30 annuitized payments over 30 years, with the annual payment increasing over time to accommodate for inflation. The cash option is a one-time, lump-sum payment equal to the cash in the Powerball jackpot prize pool from the sale of tickets across the country. Here in Iowa, jackpot winners pay 25 percent federal withholding and 5 percent state withholding on their prize.
Eight lottery tickets sold in Iowa have won Powerball jackpots so far, including two just this year alone. The largest Powerball jackpot won in Iowa to date came in June of this year. The Shipping 20, a group of co-workers from the Quaker Oats plant in Cedar Rapids, claimed that $241 million Powerball prize.
Powerball and Mega Millions are both lotto games with jackpots that have climbed into the hundreds of millions of dollars. But until 2010, the games were sold by separate groups of states. Many lotteries, including Iowa, began offering both games in January 2010. In January of this year, Powerball became a $2 game, with predictions that the change would achieve bigger, faster-growing jackpots. The current jackpot run in the game certainly bears that out.
Today, Powerball tickets are sold by 44 lotteries: Iowa, 41 other states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.