- The largest jackpot ever won was a $1.6 billion prize won in January 2016.
- The cash value — which most big lottery winners choose instead of an annuity — for this $620 million jackpot is $446 million.
- The chance of a single ticket matching all six numbers drawn in Powerball is about 1 in 292 million.
Powerball's top prize has surged yet again, vaulting it into the top 10 largest jackpots in U.S. lottery history.
With no one matching all six numbers drawn Wednesday night, the jackpot is now an estimated $620 million for Saturday night's drawing. If there's a winning ticket, it would be the 10th-largest lottery prize won — and still $980 million behind the largest ever: a $1.6 billion Powerball prize won in January 2016.
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The jackpot has been growing since early June when a single ticket sold in Florida won $286 million. Since then, there have been 38 drawings with no grand prize winner.
The cash value — which most winners choose instead of an annuity spread over 30 years — for this $620 million jackpot is $446 million. That amount would be reduced by a 24% federal tax withholding of about $107 million, as well as any state taxes due. And, more would likely be owed to the IRS at tax time.
Despite the sizeable share that goes to taxes, the windfall would be more than most people see in a lifetime. This makes it important for winners to get professional guidance before heading to lottery headquarters. Depending on where the ticket is purchased, you get anywhere from three months to a year to claim your prize.
Generally speaking, the first call should be to an attorney experienced in assisting lottery winners, experts say. Other professionals also should be brought in to help, including a tax advisor and a financial advisor.
The winner also should make a copy of their ticket and store the original in a safe place (i.e., a lockbox or a bank safe deposit box). Additionally, it's worth sharing the news with as few people as possible, experts say.
Meanwhile, the Mega Millions jackpot is at $34 million for Friday night's drawing. Last week, a ticket sold in New York matched all numbers drawn to win about $431 million.
Your chance of hitting either game's jackpot with a single ticket is miniscule. For Mega Millions, it's 1 in 302 million and for Powerball, 1 in 292 million.