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Update: Record Powerball® Jackpot Raised To Est. $550 Million For Tonight

Jackpot Stands At Estimated $550 Million Annuity, $360.2 Million Cash Option

DES MOINES, Iowa - The huge jackpot for tonight's Powerball drawing, already a record for the game, has been pushed even higher by strong sales nationwide. Lottery officials announced this morning that the jackpot was being raised another $50 million to an estimated $550 million annuity ($360.2 million cash) for the drawing at 9:59 p.m. tonight. Those are conservative figures, so the actual amount announced during tonight's drawing may be even higher

Strong sales across the country are the reason the prize is taking big jumps now - Wednesday's jackpot is $223 million higher than the $327 prize that was up for grabs in this past Saturday's drawing.

The Powerball jackpot was last won in the drawing on Oct. 3, so it has been growing for nearly two months. The jackpot has beaten the odds by rolling 16 times without anyone winning it - there was only about a 5 percent chance it would make it this far.

The previous jackpot record in the Powerball game was a $365 million prize won in February 2006 by eight co-workers at a Nebraska meatpacking plant. The world record for a jackpot in any lotto game also was set this year when the Mega Millions jackpot hit $656 million before it was won on March 30. That big prize was split between three tickets in Illinois, Kansas and Maryland.

How Late Can You Buy A Ticket In Iowa?

You can buy tickets here in Iowa for the drawing until 8:59 p.m. Wednesday. If you buy a ticket after that, it will be for the following Powerball drawing on Saturday, Dec. 1.

What's That We Hear About Coverage?

All of the lotteries across the country that sell Powerball tickets are tracking sales, and by looking at the numbers overall, estimates can be made about how many of the possible combinations of numbers in the game will be purchased for a particular drawing. The odds of winning the jackpot in Powerball are about 1 in 175.2 million because there are about 175.2 million possible ways you can combine the numbers to make a play.

It's anticipated that about 75 percent of all the possible combinations will be purchased for tonight's Powerball drawing. So, does that mean there will be a winner? We won't know for sure until the drawing happens!

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.

Remember To Check For ALL The Prizes You May Have Won!

While it's the giant jackpot that's making headlines, there are several other ways you can win in Powerball. Other prize levels in the game range from $4 for matching just the Powerball up to $1 million for matching the first five numbers but missing the Powerball. (And all of those prizes can be multiplied with the Power Play option.)

Here's an interesting factoid about Iowa Powerball winners: In Saturday's drawing, more than 28,400 tickets sold in Iowa won a prize. We'll have to wait and see what Wednesday's drawing will bring!

And If You Win Big …

The Iowa Lottery offers these reminders to keep your ticket safe, both while you wait for the drawing and afterward:

  1. Sign your ticket. That identifies it as belonging to you. If you win, you might want to make a photocopy of it and keep the original in a safe or safe-deposit box. At the very least, keep it somewhere you know it will be protected.
  2. Winning a jackpot of this size would be a life-changing experience. Contact a lawyer or financial planner who can help you make the right choices for you with the money. One of your first decisions would be whether to receive the jackpot in annuitized payments over 30 years or in a one-time, lump-sum cash payment.
  3. If you win, you might want to consider getting an unlisted telephone number.
  4. And finally, after you have collected your winnings, you might want to take a self-imposed, 30-day breather period before spending any of the money. That would provide time for reality to sink in and help you think things through clearly.

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 History

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.