The estimated jackpot for Wednesday night’s Powerball drawing has soared to $450 million thanks to strong sales.
Multi-State Lottery Association officials on Tuesday increased the expected prize from $400 million because of fast sales for the largest lottery jackpot in nearly a year.
No one has won Powerball’s biggest prize since Nov. 4. The jackpot now is the sixth-largest ever in North America, and if there is no winner after Wednesday night’s drawing, the prize will keep climbing.
The biggest jackpot was a $656 million Mega Millions prize won in 2012. The last time Powerball had grown this large was in February 2015, when three winners split a $564.1 million prize.
Powerball is played in 44 states, including Louisiana as well as the District of Columbia, U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
Here are are four things to know about the big lottery payoff:
HOW DOES THE JACKPOT RANK?
The jackpot would be the sixth-largest ever in North America. It’s been growing since the last Powerball jackpot winner on Nov. 4 and will keep climbing if no one wins the big prize on Wednesday. If there isn’t a jackpot winner, the prize for Saturday’s drawing would be significantly larger, but it would still take some time to grow beyond the record. That was a $656 million Mega Millions jackpot won in March 2012. The largest Powerball prize was a $590.5 million jackpot won by a Florida woman in May 2013.
The prize would have a cash option of $275.4 million, and that’s before taxes are deducted. The $450 million prize is based on an annuity, which would pay out the money over 29 years.
THE ODDS? NOT GOOD.
The odds are one in 292.2 million, which means you’re really, really, really unlikely to win. For some comparison, your chance of being struck by lightning in a year is about one in 960,000. But as lottery officials often note, you have no chance of winning if you don’t buy a ticket.
POOLING YOUR MONEY
Some players feel they increase their odds of winning by pooling their money with co-workers, with a promise to split the winnings. Joining with colleagues and friends can increase the fun of playing, but the odds of winning are so tiny that adding 50 or 100 chances doesn’t matter much. Lottery officials recommend that if people pool their money, they put down rules in writing for splitting the prize, as it’s easy for misunderstandings to crop up when hundreds of millions of dollars are at stake.