No Powerball Winner, so Jackpot May Grow to $1.3 Billion

January 10, 2016 Updated: January 10, 2016

Anticipation turned to disappointment for thousands of people who purchased Powerball tickets ahead of Saturday night’s drawing for the biggest U.S. lottery prize in history.

But since no one matched all six Powerball numbers, the newly estimated $1.3 billion jackpot is still theirs for the taking. The prize is all but certain to grow before the next drawing Wednesday as others buy tickets for their chance at quick riches.

The jackpot has ballooned since its Nov. 4 starting point of $40 million.

Saturday’s winning numbers—16-19-32-34-57 and Powerball number of 13—did gain some people a little wealth: 25 tickets won $1 million by matching five numbers, and three other tickets won $2 million because they paid extra to multiply smaller prizes.

Officials with the Multi-State Lottery Association, which runs the Powerball game, had said they expected about 75 percent of the possible number combinations would have been bought for Saturday night’s drawing. The odds to win are one in 292.2 million.

The record jackpot lured an unprecedented frenzy of purchases. Anndrea Smith, 30, said Saturday that she already had spent more than she usually does on Powerball tickets.

“I bought four yesterday, and I usually never buy any,” said Smith, manager of Bucky’s gas station and convenience store in Omaha, Nebraska.

Powerball is played in 44 states as well as the District of Columbia, U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. The next Powerball drawing is Wednesday.

Powerball tickets are shown in San Lorenzo, Calif., on Jan. 9, 2016. No ticket matched all six Powerball numbers following the drawing for a record jackpot of nearly $950 million, lottery officials said early Sunday, Jan. 10, boosting the expected payout for the next drawing to a whopping $1.3 billion. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Powerball tickets are shown in San Lorenzo, Calif., on Jan. 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Here’s What You Need to Know About the Powerball

How Did We Get Here?

The jackpot for the twice-weekly game started at $40 million on Nov. 4 and has been growing ever since. Because the payout is based on sales, the prize grows as people rush to a shot at millions.

Your Odds: Poor

A $2 ticket gives you a one in 292.2 million chance at joining the hall of Powerball champions.

The Payoff: Huge, Even After Taxes

A winner would have the option of being paid $1.3 billion through annual payments over 29 years or opting for one $806 million cash payment. But 39.6 percent of the lump sum would go to federal income taxes.

Plus, most states would take a chunk—something winners in Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming wouldn’t have to worry about. California and Pennsylvania exempt lottery winnings from income taxes if the ticket was bought in-state.

“Almost everyone chooses the lump sum, but you do take a pretty significant hit,” said Mark Luscombe, principal federal tax analyst for Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting. “I guess people just feel they can do better than waiting 30 years to get all their money.”

Sharing Is Caring

Some people feel that pooling their money with co-workers will improve their chance of winning—but with such tiny odds, adding 50 or 100 chances doesn’t give you a leg up. And if your group is lucky, lottery officials recommend preventing hard feelings by putting in writing how you plan to split the prize, since it’s easy for misunderstandings to crop up when hundreds of millions of dollars are at stake.

Wish List

“Somewhere warm to start” for vacation, open an art studio, buy a house—Sonja Peterson of Minneapolis.

“A warm vacation … I’d share with family, too”—Anndrea Smith of Omaha, Nebraska.

Here’s a Rundown of Some Key Figures

Jackpot

Saturday’s nearly $950 million jackpot already was the largest in U.S. history, but after Saturday night’s rollover, Wednesday’s drawing will be worth $1.3 billion, said Texas Lottery official Kelly Cripe.

Odds of Winning

To put it gently, not good. The odds of winning Saturday’s jackpot were one in 292.2 million. Realistically, you were really, really, really unlikely to win. One hopeful thought: Scott A. Norris, an assistant professor of mathematics at Southern Methodist University, says your tiny odds improve a bit if you let the computer pick your numbers rather than choosing yourself.

Possible Number Combinations

There are 292.2 million possible combinations of the five white balls and red Powerball. That’s where the one in 292.2 million odds comes from, and they stay the same regardless of how big the jackpot grows or how many people buy tickets.

Lump Sum vs. Lifetime Payout

Once you beat the astronomical odds and win, you’ll get to choose between being paid $1.3 billion through annual payments over 29 years or one $806 million cash payment. Those figures are before federal and state taxes, which will eat up roughly half of the cash-option prize. What’s your best bet? Olivia S. Mitchell, a professor of insurance and risk management at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, says a safe option to avoid the risk of overspending or an investment mishap would be to take the annuity.

Since the Last Winner

The jackpot started at $40 million on Nov. 4 and has been growing since then because there have been no big winners for the twice-weekly jackpots. Because the payout is based on sales, the prize has grown more quickly as people rush to buy tickets. More ticket sales also make it more likely there will be a winner, as all the extra tickets mean more number combinations are covered.

States Where the Game Is Played

Powerball is played in 44 states as well as the District of Columbia, U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

Buying Tickets

A regular ticket costs $2—about the same as a gallon of gas.

The 10 Highest US Lottery Jackpots

The Powerball jackpot for Wednesday night’s drawing will be $1.3 billion. While that’s the largest U.S. lottery jackpot ever, lotteries elsewhere in the world can be far bigger. Spain’s massively popular Christmas lottery, known as “El Gordo,” is ranked as the world’s richest and last month showered 2.2 billion euros ($2.4 billion) across the country in millions of prizes.

As for the U.S., here’s a look at the 10 previous highest jackpots and where the winners were from:

1. $656.0 million, Mega Millions, March 30, 2012, (3 tickets from Kansas, Illinois and Maryland)

2. $636 million, Mega Millions Dec 17, 2013, (2 tickets, from California and Georgia)

3. $590.5 million, Powerball, May 18, 2013, (1 ticket from Florida)

4. $587.5 million, Powerball, Nov. 28, 2012, (2 tickets from Arizona and Missouri)

5. $564.1 million, Powerball, Feb 11, 2015, (3 tickets, from North Carolina, Puerto Rico and Texas)

6. $448.4 million, Powerball, Aug 7, 2013, (3 tickets, one from Minnesota and two from New Jersey)

7. $425.3 million, Powerball, Feb 19, 2014, (1 ticket from California)

8. $414 million, Mega Millions, March 18, 2014, (2 tickets from Florida and Maryland)

9. $399.4 million, Powerball, Sept 18, 2013, (1 ticket from South Carolina)

10. $390.0 million, Mega Millions, March 6, 2007, (2 tickets from Georgia and New Jersey)