BOSTON PUBLIC RADIO
10:17 am
Wed November 28, 2012

Will You Be The Lucky 1-in-175,223,510?

A winning Powerball ticket purchased in Madison, WI in 2010. Wednesday's jackpot is expected to top out over $500 million.
Credit tsand / Flickr

The countdown is on. You have until 10:59 PM Wednesday to pick up a Powerball ticket, if you go in for that sort of thing. The drawing will be for a jackpot in excess of $550 million. That sum might not impress the likes of the Omaha Oracle, but for most of us it would account for a serious lifestyle upgrade.

While you ponder which yacht to buy if you pick the right numbers, here are some other numbers to consider: Powerball tickets are being sold at a rate of 110,000 per hour, and you have a better chance of either becoming President of the United States, or being struck by lightning than you do winning Powerball.

Massachusetts State Treasurer Steve Grossman, who oversees the Massachusetts state lottery, joined Emily Rooney to talk about tonight's big purse.

What to Do If You Strike It Rich

If you win, what next? Take the winnings in a lump sum — minus heavy taxes — or an annual payment?

So assume you hit the jackpot, the big one. Then what?
Credit John Carleton / Flickr

According to Treasurer Grossman, the annual pay is "graduated" over thirty years. So, the first yearly payment from a $550 million purse would be $16 million, and the twenty-ninth would be $50 million. (Unfortunately, you don't collect interest on future earnings the state holds for you.) The annual payment rewards the patient winner with more money in aggregate.

And what if nobody — not even Nate Silver — guesses all Powerball numbers correctly? The purse will rise to somewhere in the neighborhood of $900 million before the next drawing.

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