Powerball jackpot could top $1.58B record if no one wins Wednesday night

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The fourth-largest lottery jackpot in U.S. history could soar to the largest ever if no one wins the top prize in Wednesday night’s Powerball drawing.

The jackpot climbed to $1.2 billion after no one matched all six numbers to win the jackpot. That makes 38 consecutive draws without a jackpot winner since the last person won the big prize on Aug. 3.

The jackpot grows after every drawing without a winner and now is approaching the record of $1.586 billion won by three Powerball players in 2016. The second- and third-largest prizes were hit by players of the Mega Millions lottery game.

AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

“I think it would be close to being a record if not a record,” said Drew Svitko, the Pennsylvania Lottery’s executive director. “The record of $1.586 billion that we had back in 2016 is within reach, but it really depends on a couple factors.”

The first factor is the number of tickets sold, and they are flying out of lottery machines throughout the country.

For the Monday night drawing, there were 131.6 million Powerball plays sold, said Anna Domoto, a spokeswoman for the Multi-State Lottery Association, which oversees the game. That amounted to 36.3% of all possible number combinations being covered, as millions of players picked the same numbers.

That’s a lot, but considering the odds of winning the jackpot are 1 in 292.2 million, that means about 186 million number combinations weren’t covered, which is why no one won the grand prize.

Think you’re a sure bet for Wednesday night’s jackpot?

If so, you need to decide whether to take cash, which would actually pay out $596.7 million, or choose the $1.2 billion annuity option that is twice as large but is paid out over 29 years.

Winners of giant jackpots nearly always take the cash, and financial advisors say that might be a mistake.

Nicholas Bunio, a certified financial planner from Downingtown, Pennsylvania, said that even with his expertise, he would take an annuity because it would so dramatically lessen his risk of making poor investment decisions.

“It allows you to make a mistake here and there,” Bunio said. “People don’t understand there is a potential for loss. They only focus on the potential for gain.”

Powerball is played in 45 states, as well as Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.