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Powerball fever: What you need to know about the lottery

Alyssa Pry
Personal Finance Reporter

Lotto fever strikes again! The Powerball drawing has grown to a whopping $700 million for Wednesday night’s drawing, the second highest in its history. At 10:59 PM, someone might be millions richer — or the prize will grow even larger!

Americans are crazy for the lottery. Half of adults say they’ve played the lottery before, according to a Gallup poll. And the average American will spend $207 per year playing the game, according to LendEDU. But the odds are definitely NOT in your favor!

According to Powerball.com, you have a 1 in 292 million chance of winning the Powerball pot. Want better odds? Try playing Megamillions — your odds are slightly better: 1 in 259 million.

Americans have always been eager to play their luck — the lottery can be traced back to the 1600s, when lotteries were used to fund the new colonies. The money was spent on public works projects like building roads, bridges, libraries and churches. But because of government corruption and protests over the morality of the games, the lottery was banned from every state except for Delaware and Louisiana by 1890.

New Hampshire reinstated its state lottery in 1964, and now, 44 states have their own lotteries.

Massachusetts is the most lotto-loving state — residents spend $735 on lottery tickets per capita, according to LendEDU. Rhode Island, Delaware, New York and West Virginia round out the top five states that spend the most on lotteries.

The most frugal lotto players are from North Dakota, where people spend $34 per capita on lottery tickets. Oklahoma, Montana, New Mexico and Nebraska were also in the bottom five of lotto-shy states.

The state that’s had the most luck when it comes to those winning numbers? Indiana. It’s had 39 jackpot winners, according to the Powerball. Maybe tonight’s winner will hail from the Hoosier State?

If you are the lucky winner, be prepared to fork over some of your new fortune. The cash payout from tonight’s Powerball is $443.3 million, and the Federal government will take another 25% in taxes, according to USAmega.com. Lottery earnings are taxed as income, so your state will also take a bite. Winners can take their winnings in a lump sum or have payments stretched out over 29 years.

And think all that money will lead to lifelong riches? Seventy percent of lottery winners eventually go bankrupt, according to the National Endowment for Financial Education. 

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