Powerball jackpot sees record increase, attracts Utahns to Arizona

People line up at the Beaver Dam Station, about 25 miles south of St. George, Utah, to buy tickets for the record setting Powerball lottery drawing. A winner could have taken home almost $950 million, however, there were no winning tickets. The next drawing is expected to top $1.3 billion. Beaver Dam Station, Arizona, Jan. 9, 2016 | Photo courtesy of Paul Neff, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — With a major jackpot on the line, prospectors for the grand prize flocked to convenience stores, bars, gas stations, grocery stores and the like across the country Saturday or, in the case of some living in nonparticipating states, including Utah, across state lines to buy their tickets.

Powerball lottery is in all states shown in blue, plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands (not shown) | Map courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, St. George News
Powerball lottery is in all states shown in blue, plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands (not shown) | Map courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, St. George News

Outlets in 44 states and the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands experienced a surge in ticket sales that pushed the jackpot to almost $950 million.

Beaver Dam Station and Bar in Beaver Dam, Arizona, just 25 miles south of St. George, sells lottery tickets and receives its share of Utah buyers. Although bar manager Bonnie Rowley did not want to reveal the exact number of tickets sold Saturday, she said: “We sold a ton, it’s crazy – into the six digits.”

But it was all for naught Saturday as the big jackpot goes. None of the tickets purchased matched all the numbers drawn, 32, 16, 19, 57, 34 plus the Powerball 13, and so the jackpot grows.

The now record jackpot of $949.8 million will hold until Wednesday’s drawing – expected to top $1.3 billion. Let that sink in a minute. Over a billion dollars.

Lottery officials say the estimated $1.3 billion prize is the world’s largest. Ever.

“Biggest jackpot in the history of the world. Absolutely confirmed,” said Texas Lottery executive director Gary Grief, whose state lottery is part of the Multi-State Lottery Association that runs Powerball. “We’ve never been at these levels.”

Saturday’s winning numbers did have some smaller winners. Twenty-five tickets won $1 million by matching five numbers, The Associated Press reported, and three other tickets won $2 million because they paid extra to multiply smaller prizes.

The jackpot began with a paltry $40 million on Nov. 4, 2015, and has been growing ever since. Since the jackpot is based on sales, the higher the jackpot gets, the more tickets are sold, pushing the payout even higher.

There are two ways a single winner can accept Wednesday’s prize. An annuity of $1.3 billion paid out over 29 years, or a lump sum of $806 million. If the winner chooses the annuity, that works out to just under $45 million per year, or $3.7 million deposited into the winner’s bank account every month.

Olivia S. Mitchell, a professor of insurance and risk management at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, told the Associated Press a safe option to avoid the risk of overspending or an investment mishap would be to opt for the annuity.

Realistically, though, a person’s chances of winning are very small. With the five white balls and one red Powerball, the odds of winning are one in 292.2 million. The odds reflect the number of possible combinations of the five white and one red balls, and thus stay the same regardless of how big the jackpot grows or how many people buy tickets.

Pick your own numbers or let the computer do it for you? Research has shown that 70 percent of Powerball winners let the computer pick their numbers, rather than playing their lucky numbers.

The next Powerball drawing is Wednesday at 8:59 p.m. MST.

The Associated Press reporter JOSH FUNK and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Email: rwayman@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews | @NewsWayman

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

 

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