After days of feverish anticipation, the second-biggest jackpot in US lottery history has been won.
One lucky ticket matching all five numbers – 6, 7, 16, 23 and 26 – and the Powerball, 14, was bought at the Pride Station and Store in Chicopee, Massachusetts.
The person with that ticket may now walk away with up to $758.7million – having beaten the one-in-292.2million odds to win the jackpot.
The Massachusetts State Lottery had originally announced the winning ticket was sold at Handy Variety in Watertown, but later corrected that statement to Pride Station in Chicopee.
The announcement snafu led to the store owner of Handy being interviewed by Good Morning America, thinking she won the $50,000 store payout, only to be told after her interview, she was not in fact the winning store.
If the winner wants to take home the total jackpot sum, they must choose to have it paid out in a 29-year annuity.
That means a payment of $26.2million dollars into their bank account every year.
But most people choose to take a smaller lump sum – in this case $443.3million, minus the federal and state taxes that generally eat up more than 30 per cent of winnings.
That’s a decision that’s not even worth contemplating unless you hold the winning ticket in your hand, of course – and most people never will.
The store that has provided the latest winning ticket almost provided another jackpot winner back in 2012 when it was one number short of netting someone $640million, according to Wicked Local.
Tom Rietz, a professor at the University of Iowa who researches probabilities, says one way to think about it is to envision the 324million US residents.
Your chance of winning is roughly comparable to being that one lucky person out of the entire population, with everyone else losing.
Players have much better odds – of one in 25 – of winning a lesser prize.
Those odds range from one in 11.7 million of winning $1million for matching the five regular balls to one in 38 for matching the Powerball and winning $4.
In the 44 states where the lottery is held, the money raised is used to fund government programs.
Each state gets to decide what the money should be spent on, with some funding college scholarships, others spending the money on transportation and many using it for general state programs.
This Wednesday’s jackpot was second only to a massive $1.6billion prize that was dished out in January 2016.
Last year, national lottery ticket sales added up to more than $80billion, according to reports – a $7billion increase from 2015 revenues.
Powerball is played in 44 states, as well as Washington, DC, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.
Powerball’s white balls are numbered one through 69. The red ‘power’ ball is numbered one through 26. Tickets for the twice-weekly draws cost $2 each.