Powerball jackpot hits $550 million
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Wednesday's Powerball drawing could be one for the history books, with the jackpot rising to a record $550 million.
The prize for last Saturday's Powerball was $325 million -- the fourth-largest in the game's history. For the 15th consecutive time, no players matched the winning numbers, which were 22, 32, 37, 44, 50 and Powerball 34.
The top prize now increases to an estimated $550 million, the largest in the history of the multi-state lottery game. The figure has risen in recent days as more people than expected bought tickets, said Chuck Strutt, executive director of the Multi-State Lottery Association.
However, the only near certainty about the drawing Wednesday is that no one will win the $550 million jackpot. That's because that advertised prize, like the top prize at rival game Mega Millions, is the sum of annuity payments paid out over 29 years.
A single winner in Wednesday's drawing who took the lump-sum payment option would receive $360 million before taxes.
With current tax and interest rates near historic lows, even Strutt admits it doesn't make much sense to take the annuity payment. The last jackpot winner to choose the annuity option was in 2007.
The largest U.S. lottery jackpot on record is the $656 million Mega Millions prize in March of this year, which was split between three winning tickets. The lump-sum prize in that case was $474 million, or $158 million for each of the three winning tickets.
In 2006, Powerball handed out its largest prize to date, a $177 million lump-sum payment on a $365 million jackpot drawing that went to eight co-workers at a Nebraska meat-packing plant.
The Powerball is held in 42 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
For all the excitement surrounding Wednesday's drawing, gamblers are better off trying their luck elsewhere.
Research shows that the lottery pays out at one of the lowest rates among commercial gambling games. The odds of winning the top prize in Wednesday's drawing? One in 175 million.
CNNMoney's James O'Toole and Chris Isidore contributed reporting.
(CNN) -- Last March, when the people of America were drooling at the thought of winning a record $656 million Mega Millions jackpot, we poured an icy bucket of mathematical reality over your head: You weren't going to win.
And you didn't. Three winning tickets were sold, but you weren't involved. It was never going to happen. As we wrote then, you stood a better chance at hitting two consecutive holes in one than winning that jackpot.
Now, with a record $550 million Powerball jackpot up for grabs Wednesday, we figured it was a great time to, once again, dash your dreams. We know, we know -- someone will win at least a share of the prize, if not Wednesday, then in some subsequent drawing. But it won't be you.
The chance of a ticket winning a Powerball jackpot is 1 in 175,223,510 (slightly better than the chance of winning a Mega Millions jackpot, which is 1 in 175,711,536). Here are a few unlikely scenarios that, we're sorry to say, are much more likely than you taking home this jackpot.
From the Harvard School of Public Health:
-- Dying from a bee sting: 1 in 6.1 million.
-- Dying from a lightning strike: 1 in 3 million.
From U.S. Hole in One, which insures golf prizes for holes in one:
-- An amateur golfer making a hole in one on a par-3 hole: 1 in 12,500.
-- A golfer hitting a hole in one on consecutive par-3 holes: 1 in about 156 million.
From a 2011 State Farm study on collisions between vehicles and deer:
-- Hitting a deer with a vehicle in Hawaii, the state where State Farm says deer-vehicle collisions are least likely: 1 in 6,267.
From the National Weather Service:
-- Being struck by lightning over an 80-year lifetime: 1 in 10,000.
From the Florida Museum of Natural History, based on U.S. beach injury statistics:
-- Drowning and other beach-related fatalities: 1 in 2 million.
-- Being attacked by a shark: 1 in 11.5 million.
What do you think about your chances of winning on Wednesday? Weigh in on Twitter using #whataretheodds.