Everything You Need to Know About the Record-Breaking Powerball

Let's be real. Most of us love money, but we'd love it even more if it came in the form of a random jackpot win. See ya, long hours filing sales reports. Hello, beaches of Bora Bora.

There's a chance — a very, very, VERY small chance — that you'll soon be jet-setting your way to tropical islands for a lifelong vacation, sipping margaritas on the sand for the rest of your lazy days. That chance? It's called the Powerball. And for those of you who are interested in learning more about it (read: all of us), we've got the details you should know.

  1. It's the biggest lottery payout in the world. As of today, the current estimated jackpot is $1.4 billion . . . that is, if you take your winnings in 30 payments over the next 29 years. If you'd rather claim it all in a lump sum as soon as you present that winning ticket, the cash you'll receive is valued at $868 million. So, you'd definitely lose a mighty quantity if you request it all at once, but $868 million is still not bad, you feel me?
  2. The government, however, will reap the benefits. You've got your federal income taxes, and you've got your state income taxes . . . which require withholding a major chunk of the change. According to this Forbes article, even if you're a resident of Tennessee, Florida, Texas, South Dakota, Washington, or New Hampshire (the states participating in the Powerball that don't have an income tax), you'll only get to keep around $524 million if you choose to receive it in a lump sum. (Note that California and Pennsylvania exempt lottery wins from income taxes). That seems absurdly high, even for taxes — right? Not so much. Forbes states that you'll ultimately owe 39.6 percent — the top federal rate in 2016 on ordinary income (lotto jackpots are treated as such). Let's say, for the sake of hypotheticals, you win the prize, and you do live in a state that's taxed. If you're a resident of New York City, for example, you're looking at paying about 49 percent (!) of your Powerball jackpot in combined federal, state, and city taxes. Eek.
  3. You pick your own numbers. If you'd like to give it a go, head to your local convenience store and select five separate numbers from 1 to 69, plus a sixth number between 1 and 26 (considered the Powerball). If you're indecisive, you can let the computer choose at random.
  4. Not every state plays the Powerball. Unfortunately, if you reside in Utah, Mississippi, Alabama, Nevada, Alaska, or Hawaii, you'll have to do a bit of traveling if you'd like to participate. Or perhaps fortunately, depending how you look at it.
  5. You can watch the drawings as they occur. You know, in case you thrive on TV excitement. The next drawing will take place after 10:59 p.m. EST on Wednesday, in Tallahassee, FL. The rest of us are just checking the numbers on our phones.