Entries in Jackpot (28)


Powerball Jackpot Set at $300 Million for Saturday Drawing

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The odds of picking the winning Powerball ticket might be one in 175.2 million, but that doesn't stop jackpot junkies across the country from employing their own superstitious tactics in hopes of matching the six lucky numbers.

With the Powerball drawing set at $300 million Saturday evening, thousands of lottery players are hoping luck is on their side when it comes to holding the golden ticket.

Both lottery officials and mathematicians said every Powerball ticket has the same chance of winning.

Still, jackpot-hopefuls have cited selection strategies like using the birthdates of loved ones or putting their fortune in the hands of a Quick Pick drawing to be crowned the game's newest multi-millionaire.

Nearly 80 percent of all ticket buyers let the computer do the picking, and with good reason – more Powerball winners have relied on randomization to ensure their success.

The multi-state lottery's most recent winner, 84-year-old Gloria C. Mackenzie of Zephyrhills, Fla., took home the whopping $590 million jackpot in June thanks to computer-generated numbers.

"While in line at Publix another lottery player was kind enough to let me go ahead of them in line to purchase the winning Quick Pick ticket," she said in a statement, according to Florida lottery officials.

Mackenzie opted for the lump sum cash payout of $370.8 million before taxes, instead of 30 annual payments of $19 million, according to lottery spokeswoman Cynthia O'Connell.

As the prize skyrockets to astronomical possibilities, aspiring millionaires might turn to drastic measures to up the ante.

Some players tempt fate by crossing state borders to purchase a ticket from a so-called luckier location, lining up at gas stations and convenience stores where winning tickets have been drawn in the past.

But even though Indiana may hold the record for the most Powerball jackpots – coming in at a whopping 38 – and Pennsylvania, Missouri, Minnesota and Kentucky round out the top five, it's not worth the extra gas.

These states have merely been playing the multi-state lottery the longest.

While Californians might despair that no winning ticket has been drawn there, there's always a chance this time around. Residents were able to buy their first in-state tickets in April after California's lottery commission voted unanimously to join the Powerball game last November.

Looking for a lucky day of the week to win?

Although 60 percent of past winners bought their tickets on the day of the drawing, experts say there's no tell-tale sign that a purchase on the day of the drawing will make you a winner, as ticket sales tend to spike on the day of the drawing and especially within the final hours of sales.

If you're counting down the hours until Saturday's drawing, keep calm. If you've picked a winner, you're only six numbers away from millions of dollars and a media frenzy to boot.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Powerball Jackpot Totals $320 Million

Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Just because your March Madness bracket is busted doesn't mean you should stop pressing your luck.

There's still time to purchase a ticket for Saturday night's Powerball lottery drawing and the chance to win $320 million.

An additional $60 million was added to the pot following a drawing on Wednesday when no one in the 44 states where tickets are sold had a winning ticket.

There is a 1 in 175,223,510 chance of winning the jackpot, according to the website of the Multi-State Lottery Association. But, there's a 1 in 31.85 chance that a ticket holder could win something, including the smallest prize of $4.

The pot is technically $320 million, but has a cash value after taxes of $193.8 million, according to the association.

Though sizable, Saturday night's pot pales in comparison with last year's $588 million Powerball jackpot.

The largest jackpot ever, totaling $656 million, was offered last March, when three people split the winnings from the Mega Millions lottery.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Powerball Jackpot at Record $425M and Growing

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The jackpot for Wednesday's Powerball drawing now stands at $425 million -- the richest Powerball pot ever -- and it's likely to get even sweeter.

"Back in January, we moved Powerball from being a $1 game to $2," says Mary Neubauer, a spokeswoman for the Iowa lottery.  "We thought at the time that this would mean bigger and faster-growing jackpots."

And it's proved true.  The total, she says, "has been taking huge jumps -- another $100 million since Saturday."  (The most recent drawing, on Saturday night, produced no winning numbers.)

Until now, the biggest Powerball pot on record -- $365 million -- was won in 2006 by eight Lincoln, Neb., co-workers.

Lottery officials in Iowa, where Powerball is headquartered, have started getting phone calls from all around the world.

"When it gets this big," says Neubauer, "we start getting inquiries from Canada and Europe from people wanting to know if they can buy a ticket.  They ask if they can FedEx us the money."

The answer she has to give them, she says, is: "Sorry, no.  You have to buy a ticket in a member state from a licensed retail location."

Asked if there's anything players can do to improve their odds of winning, Neubauer says no -- apart from buying a ticket, of course.

Lottery officials put the odds of winning Wednesday's Powerball pot at one in 175 million, meaning you are 25 times more likely to win an Academy Award.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Illinois Chaplain Finds $1M Powerball Ticket in Desk

Illinois Lottery(NEW YORK) -- A retired chaplain in Illinois found a $1 million winning lottery ticket when he was cleaning his desk, two months after the winning numbers were announced.

Ron Yurcus of Glen Ellyn, Ill., said he doesn’t usually buy lottery tickets.

“Occasionally while I buy gas, if the [lottery] prize is higher, I’ll buy one or two tickets,” Yurcus, 68, said.

Yurcus, a retired hospice chaplain, said he had accumulated about 12 tickets within two months, but didn’t check to see if any were winners until a few weeks ago.

“I bought them and never really rush home and check numbers right away.  I throw them in a pile,” he said.

When he was cleaning his desk, which he called “a cluttered mess,” he sifted through his pile of tickets and was pleasantly surprised to learn he not only had a couple tickets that won $2 but a $1 million Powerball prize from the Aug. 22 drawing.

“When I went to the payoff page and saw $1 million, I wanted to scream but no one was home,” he said, adding that he checked the number about 25 times that night and asked his wife, a school secretary, to re-check the numbers once she returned home.

Yurcus used to be self-employed with a print shop in addition to serving at the hospice, before retiring on Nov. 2.

“I don’t really have a retirement package put together.  This is my retirement,” he said.  

He and his wife are also active with charitable causes.  He said he will use some winnings to support his three children and four grandchildren.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


NY Brothers Wait Six Years to Claim $5 Million Dollar Jackpot

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(SYRACUSE, N.Y.) -- Two brothers from Syracuse, N.Y., have finally admitted they won $5 million on a lottery scratch ticket -- six years ago.

Andy Ashkar bought the ticket at his parents' store, and when he found out he'd won, he agreed to split the jackpot with his brother.  But they agreed they wouldn't tell a soul until just short of the deadline to redeem the prize, which was March 1.

With the secret finally off the Ashkar brothers' chests, a lottery official quoted by the Post-Standard Tuesday explained the now-married Ashkar didn't want his then-budding relationship or any other aspect of his life to be affected by the dough until he was good and ready.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Winning Powerball Ticket Sold in Michigan

William Thomas Cain/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A ticket sold in Michigan matched all five numbers, including the Powerball, to win the jackpot estimated at $337 million, according to

Andi Brancato, a Michigan lottery spokesman, tells ABC News Radio that the winning ticket was sold at a Sunoco gas station in Lapeer, Mich.  There is no word yet on the identity of the lucky winner.

Wednesday night's winning numbers were 6, 27, 46, 51, 56 and the Powerball was 21.

"We had the single winning ticket sold in Michigan.  It was sold in Lapeer at a gas station there.  So we are waiting now to hear from the winner.  That could happen at any time," said Brancato.

There was also one Match 5 winner in Nebraska that won $2 million and seven Match 5 winning tickets in Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Virginia that won $1 million.

It was the third largest Powerball jackpot in the lottery's history, according to Brancato.  The odds of winning the Powerball jackpot are 1 in 175 million and the odds of winning any prize are 1 in 31, according to

The national drawing is held in 42 states, including the District of Columbia.  No one has won the big Powerball prize since June 23, when a couple from Connecticut won $60 million.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Powerball Numbers Drawn for $320 Million Jackpot

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Six ping pong balls propelled by air made at least one person an instant millionaire thanks to the $320 million Powerball jackpot.

At least one winning jackpot ticket for was sold by the Michigan Lottery, according to

Wednesday's night's winning numbers were 6, 27, 46, 51, 56 and the Powerball was 21. It was the fourth largest Powerball jackpot in the lottery's history. After taxes, the value of the jackpot is about $213 million. The odds of winning the Powerball jackpot are 1 in 175 million and the odds of winning any prize are 1 in 31, according to

The national drawing is held in 42 states, including the District of Columbia. No one has won the big Powerball prize since June 23, when a couple from Connecticut won $60 million.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Strategies for Winning the $305 Million Powerball Jackpot

William Thomas Cain/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The Powerball jackpot has climbed to $305 million.  The prize grew after no one matched all six numbers in the multi-state lottery drawing Saturday night.  

The winning numbers were 4, 13, 39, 46 and 51.  The Powerball was 1.

Although no one hit the jackpot, several people made out nicely.  Five Powerball tickets won $1 million because they matched five of the six winning numbers, according to the official Powerball website.  The million-dollar tickets were sold in Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

The next Powerball drawing is now scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 15.  If you're planning to purchase a ticket, you should know that the odds of winning $1 million are one in 5.1 million.  The odds of winning the jackpot are 1 in 175 million.

Richard Lustig, a seven-time lottery winner from Florida, plays the lottery every single day, like a full-time job.  Sure, he loses sometimes, but he’s also won more than $1 million.

He has this advice for lottery hopefuls:

  • Do your research.  Go online and make sure the set or sets of numbers you play have never come up before.
  • Have a plan.  You have to learn what number to play and how often to play.  Commit to your numbers and stick to your strategy.
  • Choose your own numbers.  Don’t leave it up to the machine.
  • Don’t get swept up in the excitement.  When jackpots get this high, Lustig says, people tend to get lottery fever and spend a lot more than they normally would or can afford.  Don’t go crazy; the odds are still the same no matter how much you spend.

Mathematicians and lottery officials have said that the odds of winning are always the same regardless of how many people play because the lottery is always drawn from the same set of numbers.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Should Mega Millions Winner Take Annuity or Lump Sum?

Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesUPDATE: The Mega Millions jackpot has soared to $640 million, according to lottery officials.  The cash value now stands at $462 million.

(NEW YORK) -- The odds of winning are slim, but whoever gets lucky during Friday night's Mega Millions drawing will face the practical choice of taking the money on a yearly basis, or opting for the mega lump sum.

The jackpot currently stands at $540 million, meaning the cash option would yield a one-time lump sum payment of approximately $389.8 million.  The annuity option would provide estimated payments of $20.7 million a year over 26 years.

Remember, those numbers are pre-tax.  Right off the top, the lottery withholds 25 percent for federal tax, then, depending on where you live and your tax bracket, another 6 to 9 percent for state taxes.

The sheer amount of money is mind-boggling.

"We've never seen anything like this," said lottery spokesperson Elias Dominguez with a laugh.  "It's almost scary."

Dominguez said Mega Millions does not try to sway winners one way or the other, though they do provide every winner with a handbook with advice -- namely to get an attorney and a financial advisor.  They have no hard numbers, but generally most people take the lump sum.

"Most of them want all their money now.  They're not sure what's going to happen in 26 years.  Plus, people think they can take that lump sum and invest it and make more money on their own," he said.

Clearly, the upside to the lump sum is having access to all that money to do as you please.  But spreading the payments over time guarantees a steady income stream, and can help reduce taxes.  Age may be a consideration, though Mega Millions promises to continue to send out those checks every year, even if the winner dies, to a designated beneficiary.

Economist Austan Goolsbee, a professor at the University of Chicago who also chaired the White House Council of Economic Advisers, says the choice comes down to interest rates.  And with interest rates at zero, the lump sum just makes better financial sense.

"If you are fortunate enough to win the lottery, you most certainly want to take the lump sum," Goolsbee said.

Here's why: to fund the lottery, the lottery operators buy a zero coupon bond, which is a type of bond that ultimately pays the full amount in the final year.  In this case, the bond value $540 million paid in the 26th year.  So the value of that bond today is the lump sum.

As the interest rate goes down, the value of that bond shoots up, because the lottery deducts the interest rate every year over time.  So, in normal times, when the interest rate is say, 3 to 5 percent, Gooslbee said the value of the lump sum was about half the stated value of the lottery.  But today, with interest rates near zero, the lump sum is worth much more.

"Whoever wins, they should go thank God, and then the second person they should thank is Ben Bernanke because he just gave them an extra $90 million," Goolsbee said.

This calculation only changes when interest rates rise, and since the Fed chairman has indicated he's not raising rates until at least 2015, Goolsbee said the choice is clear.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Mega Millions Jackpot Jumps to $540 Million and Could Go Higher

Tim Boyle/Bloomberg NewsUPDATE: The Mega Millions jackpot has soared to $640 million, according to lottery officials.  The cash value now stands at $462 million.

(NEW YORK) -- Will there be a lucky winner in Friday night's drawing of the biggest lottery award in Mega Millions history?

The chances are slim -- the odds of winning the jackpot are estimated at about one in 176 million, according to lottery officials.  But at $540 million, many are taking a gamble, hoping to score the big prize and change their lives.

Long lines are expected Friday in 42 states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands as people head out to purchase Mega Millions tickets ahead of the 11 p.m. ET drawing.  And as those ticket sales soar, so could the jackpot.

To win, one must get all six numbers right -- five drawn from a set of balls numbered one through 56, and one drawn from a set numbered one through 46.

As it stands, the cash option, should the winner not choose to spread the jackpot over 26 annual payments, would be $389.8 million.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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