Powerball Hits Second Highest Total At $700 Million

Ted Goodman | Reporter

The estimated jackpot for Wednesday night’s Powerball has reached $700 million, making it the second largest prize of all time.

The massive jackpot has sparked Powerball fever from coast to coast ahead of the 10:59 p.m. ET drawing in Tallahassee, Fla. The number may increase well above $700 million in the final hours before the drawing, due to last minute interest from casual players, according to Kelly Tabor, a spokeswoman for the Colorado Lottery.

Americans from California to Florida raced to get their tickets before the drawing, despite recent changes to the system that drastically lowered the odds of striking it rich.

Changes to the Powerball in Oct. 2015 increased the number of balls from 59 to 69, as explained by The Washington Post. The increase changed the odds of winning from 1 in 175 million to 1 in 292 million. Because it is harder to win, the prize amount rolls over to larger sums.

Winners can choose between the annuity option, which is worth the $700 million, but paid over 30 years, or the cash option, which pays out significantly less at about $443.3 million. Most winners take the cash option, according to the Associated Press.

Federal income taxes will immediately take away 25 percent of the winnings, and state taxes will also take away a share, depending on the state.

While the odds of winning the big prize may seem insurmountable, players have a 1 in 25 chance of winning something smaller. Players have a 1 in 11.7 million chance of winning $1 million, and a 1 in 38 chance of winning $4.

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