Just in time for Black Friday shopping, holiday dreaming and post-Christmas bill paying, Powerball's jackpot has popped over $400 million — a threshold where a lot of people start paying attention.
No one has won the top prize since Sept. 17, when Atlanta residents William and Heather Broeke bagged a $246.8 million prize, but chose the immediate cash option instead, collecting $165.6 million. The Powerball pot has been growing for 9½ weeks and has reached $403 million for Saturday night's drawing.
The $2 tickets are available in 44 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
But before you blow your budget, realize that the odds of getting the grand prize — 30 annual payments that start at about $4 million and increase to more than $16 million by the final year — are more than one in 292 million. The lump sum payout, $243.8 million for Saturday's drawing, is always substantially less.
If someone matches Saturday's six numbers including the Powerball, drawn at 10:59 p.m., that person would win the ninth largest Powerball jackpot in history. It also would be the 13th largest U.S. prize including winners of companion lottery MegaMillions, which has a $20 million jackpot for its 11 p.m., Friday drawing.
Three of the 10 largest Powerball prize payouts and one of the largest MegaMillions pots have happened this year. The most recent big winner, from a $487 million Powerball ticket sold in New Hampshire for the July 30 drawing, has not come forward.
Powerball players choose the first five numbers from a set of 69 white balls and the Powerball from a pool of 26 red balls.
Powerball jackpots start at $40 million, and the game's second prize for matching the first five numbers but missing the Powerball is $1 million. A Power Play option, available for $1 more, can multiply all but the grand prize.
Wednesday's numbers were 7, 32, 41, 47, 61, and the Powerball was 3. The Power Play multiplier was 2X.
Buyers of three tickets in California, Florida and Maryland matched the first five numbers and have won $1 million each.
Since April 1992, when the Powerball lottery began, 352 top prize winners have been awarded a total of $18.4 billion, lottery officials say. Powerball sales in fiscal year 2016, which ended June 30, were almost $6.7 billion, and ticket sales for this fiscal year as of this past Saturday are almost $1.9 billion.
Contributing: Sheldon S. Shafer, The (Louisville) Courier-Journal.
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