Personal Finance

Powerball's jackpot is now $630 million. If you snag the top prize, here's what to do first

Key Points
  • The game's jackpot was revised upward on Wednesday to $630 million from $610 million due to strong ticket sales.
  • The amount is Powerball's seventh-largest jackpot ever.
  • Here are some key considerations if you beat the odds and win the top prize.
Warren-Pender | iStock Editorial | Getty Images

Yes, you have another chance to win a ton of money in Powerball.

No, you probably won't win.

The jackpot jumped to $630 million from $610 million ahead of Wednesday night's drawing due to strong ticket sales. The amount — which has been growing for three months — marks the seventh-largest jackpot in the game's history.

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While the chance of a single ticket matching all six numbers in any given Powerball drawing is miniscule — 1 in 292 million — it's still worth considering what you would do if you found yourself holding the winning ticket.

For starters, remember that lottery tickets are considered "bearer instruments," meaning whoever holds it is considered the owner. This means you need to earnestly protect it.

Take a picture of yourself with the winning ticket, said certified financial planner Joe Buhrmann, senior financial planning consultant at eMoney Advisor. Also put the ticket somewhere safe — such as in a safety deposit box — until it's time to claim your windfall.

Additionally, you may want to sign the back of the ticket. Just be aware that in some states, doing so could interfere with your ability to claim the prize via a trust or other legal entity that would shield your identity from the public.

It's also worth sharing the exciting news with as few people as possible. If you won't be able to remain anonymous — it depends on state laws — you need to consider how to avoid becoming a target for scammers as well as long-lost family and friends.

"You may have been friendless and unknown to passers-by on the streets," Buhrmann said. "That will all change when you're announced as the winner." 

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What to do if you win the lottery

You also should turn to experienced professionals to help guide you through the claiming process and the many facets of protecting your windfall. Your team should include an attorney, financial advisor, tax advisor and insurance professional. 

This group can help you determine whether to take your winnings as a lump sum or as 30 payments spread over 29 years. Most lottery winners choose the immediate, reduced cash amount. For Powerball's $630 million jackpot, the cash option is $448.4 million.

Either way, the money would face a 24% federal tax withholding before it reaches you. For this jackpot, taking the cash would mean about $107.6 million getting shaved off the top, leaving you with a cool $340.8 million. Depending where you won the jackpot, there also may be state taxes withheld.

Additional federal income taxes would likely also be due at tax time, given the top rate of 37%. There also may be more due in state taxes, depending on the jurisdiction's rate of withholding.

It's also worth giving some thought to how your life is going to change — not just from a financial aspect.

"Consider how this newfound wealth will change your marriage, family, and dynamics with friends and neighbors," Buhrmann said.

You may even want to seek guidance from a financial therapist or mental health professional to help you deal with the stress that comes with winning, he said.

Meanwhile, the Mega Millions jackpot is $278 million for Friday night's drawing. The cash option is $193 million. As with Powerball, the chance of a single ticket winning the top prize is tiny: 1 in 302 million.