he Powerball jackpot has reached a record $500 million, causing people in 42 states to flock to their nearest convenience stores to snatch up what could be the winning ticket. Of course, the odds only grow more daunting the larger the pot grows, but that hasn't stopped the dreaming droves across the country who are already indulging in intensely satisfying fantasies of house-buying and job-quitting. And the massive haul is sure to rise before Wednesday night's drawing, as more people throw their hard-earned money into the pot. Here, a numerical guide to the contest:
Price of a ticket
Numbers that must be matched — five whites and one red — to win the jackpot. (Five what balls are drawn from a drum of 59, and one red is drawn from a drum of 35.)
1 in 176 million
Odds of winning the jackpot
1 in 5,000
Odds of being struck by lightning
Immediate lump-sum payout option, before taxes, if you win the jackpot
Percent the federal government keeps in taxes
5 to 7
Percent of the jackpot held by most states in taxes
Years winners have to wait to receive the entire jackpot under an annual payment plan
Previous largest Powerball jackpot, in 2006
Largest Mega Millions jackpot, won earlier this year
1 in 32
Odds of winning any prize in Powerball
Number of matching whites needed to win second prize
Total Powerball sales in fiscal 2012
Expected Powerball sales in fiscal 2013
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