Powerball Myths Debunked Ahead of Record Drawing

Tuesday January 12th 2016

As Powerball is set to offer up the largest lottery jackpot in history on Wednesday night, officials are having to field more queries than ever on how the game works and what prizes can be won. A number of myths and misconceptions are having to be cleared up, as ticket holders seek to make sure they have just as much chance of winning the record $1.5 billion top prize as anyone else.

Next Estimated Jackpot:
$186 Million
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Why do players from certain states always win?

One of the most common myths is thought to be that some states win the jackpot all the time. New York, for example, is the fourth biggest-state in terms of population but has only produced one jackpot winner in the past two years. However, lottery officials often use mathematical examples to show that anomalies even out over time, just like it is possible to throw a die three times in a row and roll a six each time, but that does not mean that six would appear more than all the other numbers if the die was rolled 1,000 times. According to the Kansas Lottery’s public affairs director Sally Lunsford, it’s “human nature to think the other guy is winning”.

Why is the cash sum so much smaller than the estimated jackpot?

Many people complain that Powerball jackpots, once they’ve been won, don’t match up with the advertised amount.  It’s important for players to remember that the bigger advertised jackpot is estimated based on the amount that would be paid out to winners as an annuity of 30 payments over the course of 29 years, resulting in players receiving the full jackpot amount advertised. The other choice for players is to take a cash lump sum, which is also made public but has a lower value as it is estimated based on how much is currently in the pot due to ticket sales. For example, if there is a single winner of Wednesday’s Powerball drawing, they could take the cash option of around $868 million before taxes.

What if I choose an annuity and die before the payments are finished?

Some players are also worried about the tax dangers of taking an annuity, fearing the consequences for their loved ones if they die before all 30 payments are made. It is certainly worth players considering their age when they make a decision on how to claim their winnings, but if someone does pass away before all the payments are made, the annuity would be treated the same way as any other asset. The winner’s heirs would then be able to choose if they wanted to cash in an annuity and go on to pay taxes on the money.

Are my odds of winning Powerball better when the jackpot is smaller?

Another consequence of the massive jackpot is that some players think Powerball is impossible to win, or that the odds must be better when the jackpot is smaller. The chances of landing the jackpot are 1 in 292.2 million regardless of how big the jackpot is. The long odds of winning the jackpot have helped to create such a huge prize and, as more players enter the game, it is more likely that someone will match all five main numbers plus the Powerball. You are not competing against other players; you are competing against the machine that draws out those winning numbers.

The record-breaking jackpot has certainly caused a rush to play the game, and tickets can be bought online or from authorized retailers across the U.S. Good luck!

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