Saturday's Powerball drawing now has a jackpot of $1.6 billion, the largest ever, after no winners were announced for Wednesday night's $1.2 billion drawing.
The prize has been growing for more than three months. The odds of winning it are currently roughly one in 292.2 million, according to Powerball.
The last Powerball jackpot winner came from the $206.9 million August 3 drawing — nothing to sneeze at, but a mere fraction of the current jackpot, which would top the previous record U.S. jackpot set in January 2016. That one was also a Powerball drawing that reached $1.586 billion and was split between three winning tickets.
Lottery winners choose between receiving their winnings in an annuity — with payments over 30 years — or the more popular option, a single lump sum payment in a smaller amount. (That's the option "Shark Tank" star Kevin O'Leary says you should choose.) The lump sum payment for a Powerball player on Saturday would be $782.4 million.
Here's a look at the top lottery prizes ever won so far.
This Powerball drawing from Jan. 13, 2016, for which three winning tickets were sold, remains history's biggest lottery prize — but not for much longer. As soon as the current Powerball jackpot finds a winner, or winners, this one from five years ago will drop down to the second-biggest slot.
The winners — John and Lisa Robinson in Tennessee, Maureen Smith and David Kaltschmidt in Florida, and Marvin and Mae Acosta in California — split the full prize, giving them the option of roughly $533 million before taxes as an annuity or $327.8 million as the lump-sum payment.
The Robinsons' winning ticket was one of four they bought at a grocery store, they told NBC's TODAY show. They opted to take the lump sum. "We're not guaranteed tomorrow," says John.
The Acostas remained anonymous for months after winning but released a statement saying they were thankful for the "rare gift that has been placed in our care."
The winner of this huge drawing in October 2018 also took their time to surface. South Carolina is one of a handful of states that allows lottery winners to claim their prize anonymously, so the ticket-holder — who didn't make themselves known — finally claimed their winnings in March of the following year, just a little more than a month ahead of the deadline to come forward or risk forfeiting the prize.
What we do know is that the winner chose the cash option for their prize, taking a one-time payment of roughly $878 million. It's not a record jackpot, that number still represents the biggest payout to a single lottery winner in U.S. history.
Based on the expected tax bill, the total haul from that jackpot was likely somewhere around $491.7 million, after both federal and state taxes — a 7 percent income tax in South Carolina, plus the 37 percent federal rate. Other taxes may have also applied.
As mentioned above, the record Powerball drawing is already the second billion-dollar jackpot of 2022. The first one topped $1.3 billion before it found a winner in July. All we know about the winning player, or players, is that they bought the lucky ticket at Speedway convenience store in Des Plaines, Illinois and they opted to take the lump sum payment option of more than $780 million, according to Mega Millions. Illinois allows lottery winners to remain anonymous, and whoever won this huge prize has chosen to remain unknown to the public.
The fourth-biggest U.S. lottery prize ever was won in a January 2021 Mega Millions drawing. But because the winning ticket was bought in Michigan, another state that allows winners to remain anonymous, it took a few months for the public to learn anything about the winners.
The ticket was reportedly purchased by four members of a lottery club in the Detroit suburb of Novi. A lawyer representing the club claimed the prize for them in March 2021.
"A club member saw a sign that the jackpot was up to $1 billion and remembered that they hadn't bought their tickets yet, so they pulled into the Kroger," Kurt Panouses, the estate lawyer and club representative, told reporters on behalf of the winners last year.
"When you play, of course you dream of winning, but the reality of it has been incredible," he said. "This kind of money will impact the families of our club members for generations to come. We plan to stay humble and pay it forward through charitable giving in southeast Michigan."
Manuel Franco bought his winning ticket in New Berlin, Wisconsin, a suburb of Milwaukee. He came forward to claim his prize in April 2019, at which point Franco told reporters he had less than $1,000 in his bank account at the time he bought his winning ticket.
Franco chose the lump sum payment option for his jackpot prize, which equaled $477 million. Wisconsin lottery officials said at the time that he would likely take home about $326 million after paying state and federal taxes.
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