The record $500 million Powerball jackpot: By the numbers

With the payout crossing the half-billion-dollar mark, even America's most skeptical citizens are lining up for tickets

Felicia Ross flashes a winning smile in Orlando, Fla., while showing off Powerball tickets that probably won't win.
(Image credit: AP Photo/John Raoux)

The 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

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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

$327 million

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

$365 million

Previous largest Powerball jackpot, in 2006

$656 million

Largest Mega Millions jackpot, won earlier this year

1 in 32

Odds of winning any prize in Powerball


Second-prize jackpot


Number of matching whites needed to win second prize

$3.96 billion

Total Powerball sales in fiscal 2012

$5 billion

Expected Powerball sales in fiscal 2013

Sources: The Associated Press, CBS, Powerball, The Wall Street Journal

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