Thousands Test their Luck with Powerball Jackpot, which Surges to Record $900M
SAN JUAN – Thousands of people have played the Powerball Lottery since Saturday morning, which has increased its payout to $900 million, producing long lines at island establishments where tickets are being bought before the drawing this evening. A $2 ticket gives you a one in 292.2 million chance at joining the hall of Powerball champions.
The assistant director of the Electronic Lottery, Armando Pérez, explained that whoever wins the jackpot can choose to receive $900 million in annual installments for 29 years or receive $558 million in one payment.
“So people have an idea, $558 million is equivalent to
$15,300 a day for 100 years,” Pérez told Inter News Service, adding, “We are ready to provide the winnings in Puerto Rico, so if tomorrow’s winner lives on the island, on Monday we’ll be here, ready to deliver.”
The lottery official stressed that the prize on the island “is not something unreal because we have already won twice, and in the state of Wisconsin, which has a similar population to that of Puerto Rico, they have won 41 times.
“Yesterday [Friday], between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m., $3,800 a minute was being bought in Puerto Rico,” Pérez said, adding that by 11 a.m., 100,112 tickets had been sold for a total of $550,000.
The U.S. saw sales of $277 million on Friday alone and more than $400 million are expected Saturday, according to Gary Grief, the executive director of the Texas Lottery.
Hoping luck is in their favor, Puerto Ricans have been buying tickets in droves after the prize increased Wednesday from $500 million to $675 million, making it the top prize in the history of the lottery.
This made the award, which is played in 47 U.S. jurisdictions, to rise to $700 million Thursday, to $800 million Friday and reach $900 million Saturday.
“We will see if I hit it, I have hopes of no longer being poor,” said Katiria García while choosing her numbers at an establishment in Carolina’s Campo Rico Avenue.
Luis Rivera told Inter News Service that he returned to try his luck after recently winning $400 when scoring three numbers plus the red Powerball number, which regularly is a $100 prize but quadrupled because he had selected the option to increase the prize.
“If I had had one more number, I would have won $200,000 with that option,” said the man, who usually buys one or two tickets.
In the ticket lines that haven’t stopped forming since Wednesday, there has been no shortage of people expressing their desire to buy mansions and luxury cars and others dreaming of paying debts and giving money to relatives.
“With those millions, one can give a million to each family member and still have money to live the rest of their life,” said a man who waited with the lottery form in his hand for the evening’s drawing.
The lottery director reminded that sales close at 11 p.m. and the drawing is at midnight. “I urge people to go and play early because long lines will be forming as we head into nighttime,” he said.
If no one matches all the numbers and wins the largest U.S. lottery prize in history, the next drawing is expected to soar to $1.3 billion, according to the Multi-State Lottery Association, which runs the Powerball game.
Since Nov. 4, the Powerball jackpot has grown from its $40 million starting point as no one has won the jackpot. This kind of huge jackpot was just what lottery officials hoped for last fall when they changed the odds of matching all the Powerball numbers, from about one in 175 million to one in 292.2 million. By making it harder to win a jackpot, the tougher odds made the ever-larger prizes inevitable.
–Written using combined Caribbean Business news services.