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Powerball Jackpot Grows to Historic Level, and Doesn’t Stop

  • VOA Staff

The Powerball jackpot has now reached $1.5 billion.

That's more than a record; it's historic. It is more than double the previous jackpot record, a mere $656 million in a Mega Millions drawing in 2012.

And lottery officials said if ticket sales continue to grow, the number will keep on rising before Wednesday night’s drawing.

The historic jackpot has created huge lines in many convenience stores. Some have had to hire more store clerks to keep up with demand.

If there is a winner Wednesday, that person will join the ranks of Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Donald Trump. This is all before taxes, though. If someone wins and decides to take the full payment instead of 30 annuities over 29 years, the after-tax jackpot would be $930 million. No small change, by any measure.

People line up to buy Powerball lottery tickets at Kavanagh Liquors on Jan. 12, 2016, in San Lorenzo, Calif.

People line up to buy Powerball lottery tickets at Kavanagh Liquors on Jan. 12, 2016, in San Lorenzo, Calif.

"I would buy a fancy car and move to the Caribbean, buy myself a little house on the beach, be a beach bum for the rest of my life," Chris, a young ticket buyer, told VOA.

If the winner actually did move to the Caribbean, that person would have more money that the GDP of island nations such as Antigua and Barbuda, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Easy come, easy go

Experts and financial advisers recommend taking a couple of months before spending any of the jackpot. Seventy percent of lottery winners do not have a single dime within a few years.

Jack Whittaker of West Virginia is one of them. In 2002, he won $315 million. By 2006, he was broke.

"My wife had said she wished she had torn the ticket up,” he said. “Well, I wish we had torn the ticket up, too.”

Robert Pagliarini, the author of The Sudden Wealth Solution told ABC News that winning money so quickly can desensitize winners.

"Not all money is created equal,” he said. “The money that you earn is treated very differently than the money that you win."

But there is little danger of winning. The odds of hitting the $1.5 billion jackpot are one in 292.2 million.

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