Powerball jackpot swells to $495 million

The Powerball jackpot swelled to an estimated $495 million, creating the largest jackpot of 2019, after no one held a winning ticket in Wednesday night’s drawing.

The Powerball jackpot has been growing since late December and is the largest Powerball jackpot since the $687.8 million shared by two winning tickets in October. But it is still nowhere near the record $1.586 billion jackpot, shared among three winning tickets on Jan. 13, 2016.

The next Powerball drawing will take place at 10:59 p.m. Eastern time on Saturday.

That estimated $495 million is the amount awarded if the annuity option, with payments spread out over 30 payments, is chosen; the cash option would pay out an estimated $300.2 million all at once, all before taxes. A jackpot is shared if there are multiple winning tickets.

Read about an even bigger jackpot: ‘El Gordo’ and its $2.4 billion jackpot draw crowds to Spain’s luckiest lottery shop

The rival Mega Millions jackpot, meanwhile, reset to $40 million after a $50 million jackpot was won on Tuesday. The record for Mega Millions is a $1.537 billion jackpot won in October 2018.

The odds of winning Powerball are about 1 in 292 million, and those for Mega Millions are 1 in nearly 303 million. Sadly, you are more likely to die or kill someone while driving 2 miles to buy your Powerball ticket. Or to be attacked by a shark.

Put another way, even if every adult in the U.S. purchased one ticket, each with a different number, there would still be a good chance — about 7% — that no winner would emerge in a given drawing, and the pot would thus grow larger.

Read: Here’s what you should do when you don’t win the Mega Millions jackpot

In both Powerball and Mega Millions, a jackpot is won by correctly picking the numbers on all five white balls drawn (69 choices in Powerball, 70 in Mega Millions) as well as the correct number on the sixth ball (26 red choices in Powerball, 25 gold choices in Mega Millions).

Tickets for each lottery start at $2.

Both the annuity and cash options have tax implications and consequences for any winner’s long-term financial goals.

Financial advisers have plenty to say about what to do with the winnings: for example, these five must-dos after winning a lottery

Also: Why you still shouldn’t buy any lottery tickets

Experts also have strong views on not wasting money buying a lot of tickets, given the vanishingly slim odds. Some of the biggest buyers of what many describe as a voluntary tax are low-income earners, as MarketWatch has reported. That makes it a regressive tax, effectively, in critics’ view. Others make the case that investing in the S&P 500 index

SPX, +0.69%

and Dow Jones Industrial Average

DJIA, +0.58%

or other longer-term investments are better ways to put your money to work.

And even if you win a big lottery prize, life doesn’t always turn into a happily-ever-after story, as one $19 million winner can attest. (Cue wasteful spending leading to bankruptcy … and even bank robberies and prison time.)

Now read: Want to win the Powerball? These numbers come up more than others and These 5 Mega Millions numbers come up most often

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