$425 MILLION: Largest Powerball lottery jackpot in history

2nd largest jackpot the world has ever seen

By Todd Northrop

Let the frenzy begin.

For only the 2nd time in the history of United States lotteries — or in the history of lotteries around the world — a lottery jackpot run-up has exceeded $400 million.

It’s a prize level never seen by the Powerball multi-state game, and only once seen by the rival Mega Millions game.  And millions upon millions of people around the country will be lining up for their chance to claim the historic jackpot Wednesday evening.

The new high-water mark of $425 million for the current Powerball jackpot was achieved after no winning tickets were sold for Saturday night’s $325 million grand prize.  And if past ticket sales are any indication of what will happen this week, the jackpot may get bigger — much bigger — by the time the drawing kicks off.

The lump-sum cash payout value of Wednesday’s Powerball jackpot is a staggering $278.3 million.  After-tax cash and annuity prize amounts are reported state-by-state on the Jackpot Analysis page at USA Mega, a web site devoted to the Powerball and Mega Millions multi-state lottery games.

The cash payout value also sets a record for the largest ever offered by Powerball, and only second to Mega Million’s record of $471 million, set on March 30, 2012.  (See list of all-time record annuity and cash jackpots below.)

In January, Powerball’s pricing and prize structure changed, with the game’s organizers claiming that the changes would produce bigger jackpots more often — and they were right.  Within the first year of the changes, Powerball produced three $300+ million jackpot run-ups, and the thrid one — this current jackpot run-up — has produced the first-ever $400+ million grand prize for Powerball.

Players should note that jackpot amounts are conservative estimates provided by the lotteries, and are often somewhat higher by the time the drawing occurs.  In this case, it may be a lot higher, perhaps nearing the half-billion dollar mark.

The historic prize is the result of 15 consecutive draws without a winner.  The run-up started as a $40 million prize on October 6, 2012.

The winning numbers for Saturday, November 24, 2012 were 22, 32, 37, 44, and 50, with Powerball number 34.

Even though nobody won the jackpot Satuday, 11 lucky players matched the first 5 numbers for a $1,000,000 prize: 1 from Arizona, 1 from Florida, 2 from New Jersey, 3 from New York, 1 from Oregon, 1 from Texas, 1 from Virginia, and 1 from Wisconsin.

Of all the second-prize winners, only one of the tickets sold in New York was purchased with the Power Play option for an extra $1. Because they purchased the Power Play, that particular ticket is now worth $2 million.

90 tickets matched four white numbers plus the Powerball and won $10,000. Of those tickets, 13 were purchased with the Power Play option, increasing the prize to $40,000.

Following the Wednesday drawing, the Powerball annuity jackpot estimate was raised $100 million from its previous amount of $325 million. The cash value was raised by $65.5 million from its previous amount of $212.8 million.

When a Powerball ticket is purchased with the Power Play option for an extra $1 per ticket, any non-jackpot prize is increased according to a fixed prize schedule, which can be found on the Powerball Drawing Detail page at USA Mega, as well as on the Powerball Prize Payouts page at Lottery Post.

Powerball is now played in 42 states, plus the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  Drawings are Wednesdays and Saturdays at 11:00 p.m. Eastern Time.  Tickets cost $2 each.

Powerball lottery results are published within minutes of the drawing at USA Mega (www.usamega.com).  The USA Mega Web site provides lottery players in-depth information about the United States’s two biggest multi-state lottery games, Mega Millions and Powerball.

Top 25 United States lottery jackpots of all time

Saturday’s Powerball jackpot currently stands as the 2nd-largest lottery jackpot of all time in the United States.  The amount of the jackpot may rise before the drawing Saturday night, as lotteries are typically conservative in their initial estimates, and brisk sales may push the jackpot estimate higher by draw time.

If nobody wins Saturday, it’s anyone’s guess how high it will go.

  1. Mega Millions: $656 million, Mar. 30, 2012 – Illinois, Kansas, Maryland
  2. Powerball: $425 million, Nov. 28, 2012 – Preliminary estimate, not won yet
  3. Mega Millions: $390 million, Mar. 6, 2007 – Georgia, New Jersey
  4. Mega Millions: $380 million, Jan. 4, 2011 – Idaho, Washington
  5. Powerball: $365 million, Feb. 18, 2006 – Nebraska
  6. The Big Game: $363 million, May 9, 2000 – Illinois, Michigan
  7. Powerball: $340 million, Oct. 19, 2005 – Oregon
  8. Powerball: $337 million, Aug. 15, 2012 – Michigan
  9. Powerball: $336.4 million, Feb. 11, 2012 – Rhode Island
  10. Mega Millions: $336 million, Aug. 28, 2009 – California, New York
  11. The Big Game: $331 million, Apr. 16, 2002 – Georgia, Illinois, New Jersey
  12. Mega Millions: $330 million, Aug. 31, 2007 – Maryland, New Jersey, Texas, Virginia
  13. Mega Millions: $319 million, Mar. 25, 2011 – New York
  14. Mega Millions: $315 million, Nov. 15, 2005 – California
  15. Powerball: $314.9 million, Dec. 26, 2002 – West Virgina
  16. Powerball: $314.3 million, Aug. 25, 2007 – Indiana
  17. Powerball: $295.7 million, Jul. 29, 1998 – Indiana
  18. Powerball: $295 million, Aug. 25, 2001 – Delaware, Kentucky, Minnesota, New Hampshire
  19. Mega Millions: $294 million, Jul. 2, 2004 – Massachusetts
  20. Powerball: $276.3 million, Mar. 15, 2008 – West Virgina
  21. Mega Millions: $275 million, Feb. 22, 2008 – Georgia
  22. Mega Millions: $270 million, Feb. 28, 2006 – Ohio
  23. Mega Millions: $266 million, May 4, 2010 – California
  24. Mega Millions: $265 million, Apr. 18, 2006 – Ohio
  25. Powerball: $261.6 million, Jun. 2, 2010 – Ohio

For those keeping score, the number of jackpots in the top 25, by lottery game, are:

  • Mega Millions: 12
  • Powerball: 11
  • The Big Game: 2

The Big Game is the original name of Mega Millions, from the game’s first drawing on Sep. 6, 1996 through May 14, 2002.  The name was changed to Mega Millions starting with the May 17, 2002 drawing.

Top 20 cash value jackpots

Since many lottery winners collect their winnings in cash, the lump-sum payout is an important measure of what a winning ticket could be worth.  The new Powerball jackpot ranks as the 2nd-highest ever in the United States.

  1. Mega Millions: $471 million cash, Mar. 30, 2012 ($656 million annuity) – Illinois, Kansas, Maryland
  2. Powerball: $278.3 million cash, Nov. 28, 2012 ($425 million annuity) – Preliminary estimate, not won yet
  3. Mega Millions: $240 million cash, Jan. 4, 2011 ($380 million annuity) – Idaho, Washington
  4. Mega Millions: $233.1 million cash, Mar. 6, 2007 ($390 million annuity) – Georgia, New Jersey
  5. Powerball: $224.7 million cash, Aug. 15, 2012 ($337 million annuity) – Michigan
  6. Mega Millions: $214 million cash, Aug. 28, 2009 ($336 million annuity) – California, New York
  7. Powerball: $210 million cash, Feb. 11, 2012 ($336.4 million annuity) – Rhode Island
  8. Mega Millions: $202.9 million cash, Mar. 25, 2011 ($319 million annuity) – New York
  9. Mega Millions: $194.4. million cash, Aug. 31, 2007 ($330 million annuity) – Maryland, New Jersey, Texas, Virginia
  10. Mega Millions: $185 million cash, Nov. 15, 2005 ($315 million annuity) – California
  11. The Big Game: $180 million cash, May 9, 2000 ($363 million annuity) – Illinois, Michigan
  12. Powerball: $177.3 million cash, Feb. 18, 2006 ($365 million annuity) – Nebraska
  13. Mega Millions: $168 million cash, July 2, 2004 ($294 million annuity) – Massachusetts
  14. Mega Millions: $167.7 million cash, Feb. 22, 2008 ($275 million annuity) – Georgia
  15. Powerball: $166 million cash, Aug. 25, 2001 ($295 million annuity) – Delaware, Kentucky, Minnesota, New Hampshire
  16. Mega Millions: $165.2 million cash, May 4, 2010 ($266 million annuity) – California
  17. Powerball: $164.4 million cash, won Oct. 19, 2005 ($340 million annuity) – Oregon
  18. Mega Millions: $164 million cash, Feb. 28, 2006 ($270 million annuity) – Ohio
  19. Powerball: $161.5 million cash, July 29, 1998 ($295.7 million annuity) – Indiana
  20. Mega Millions: $156.1 million cash, Sept. 16, 2005 ($258 million annuity) – New Jersey