Personal Finance

Winning $315 million Powerball ticket sold in New Jersey

Key Points
  • Joining an office pool poses complications when a ticket wins, including how to handle taxes and divvying up the winnings.
  • Buying more than one ticket does little to increase your odds. For a single ticket, you have a 1 in 292.2 million chance of winning.

A single ticket purchased in New Jersey has won Powerball's jackpot of $315.3 million.

That amount is reduced to $183.2 million if the winner (or winners) chooses a lump sum instead of spreading it out over 30 years.

Hitting the jackpot with co-workers would bring additional challenges.

"If you go in on an office pool, make sure it's done right," said Jason Kurland, an attorney with Certilman Balin Adler & Hyman, a law firm in East Meadow, New York.

"People don't treat it like a transaction [potentially] worth hundreds of millions of dollars, but that's essentially what it is," said Kurland, who specializes in helping lottery winners.

For starters, it would be much harder to follow the expert advice to remain anonymous in states where winners are permitted to shield their identity from the public. If you win in a pool, there's already potential leakers of your business from the get-go.

Top 10 Powerball jackpots

Amount Date won Where winning tickets were purchased
$1.586 BillionJan. 13, 2016California, Florida, Tennessee
$758.7 MillionAug. 23, 2017Massachusetts
$590.5 MillionMay 18, 2013Florida
$587.5 MillionNov. 28, 201Arizona, Missouri
$564.1 MillionFeb. 11, 2015North Carolina, Puerto Rico, Texas
$559.7 MillionJan. 6, 2018New Hampshire
$487.0 MillionJuly 30, 2016New Hampshire
$456.7 MillionMarch 17, 2018Pennsylvania
$448.4 MillionAug. 7, 2013Minnesota, New Jersey, New Jersey
$447.8 MillionJune 10, 2017California

Past lottery winners have discovered the hard way that the more people who know they've won, the greater the chance they'll be approached for things like personal loans, handouts, investment opportunities and charitable donations.

There's also the challenge of figuring out exactly how to split the winnings. There are tax considerations, and some states have limits on how many checks they will cut. In that case, winners would end up turning to a more complex solution, such as forming a trust.

"Say there are 15 people who win a lot of money. Getting 15 people to agree on anything is difficult," Kurland said. "And then if they each get their own attorney, you've got 15 attorneys who are supposed to agree."

If you've already gone in on tickets or want to despite the potential pitfalls, at least make sure the pool's coordinator documents the whole affair.

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This is what you do if you win the lottery

"The person should give a copy of the tickets and a list of [participants] to everyone who's in the pool," Kurland said.

This protects the people in the pool and the organizer.

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"That way, if the person who's in charge also bought a ticket on their own and it ends up winning, there's a way to prove it wasn't part of the pool," Kurland said.

The simpler thing is just to buy tickets on your own.

The odds of nabbing the jackpot is 1 in 292.2 million for a single ticket, according to the Multi-State Lottery Association. Buying more than one — whether through an office pool or on your own — doesn't increase your chances by much.

"You're still talking about huge odds," Kurland said.