Many Americans are asking themselves that very question right now. Dreams of vacations, paying off debt, expensive houses and cars, helping loved ones, being that anonymous donor who saves the hospital or school, leaving a legacy for our children’s children, not going to work… millions of us are playing ‘what if’ in our minds as we prepare for the largest Powerball jackpot drawing in the history of the game.
Of course, the 425 million dollar jackpot is only an estimate; an official associated with Powerball in Iowa says the jackpot will likely go up, as millions more play the lottery when a large jackpot is in play.
Alas, you would not see a full 425 million. Let’s assume that we don’t have multiple jackpot winners in this scenario—that only one person or couple wins the whole thing. Even then, the lump sum payout (meaning that you don’t want the winnings doled out to you over the next thirty years) is only 278 million dollars. And then there are taxes, to the tune of 35 percent for the federal government, and then depending on what state you live in, usually about another 8 percent or so for the state—totaling 43 percent for taxes alone.
Personally, I’d be okay with that. I like paying my taxes. Yeah, it hurts, but it also makes me feel patriotic. If I won the lottery, I’d put a sign in my yard that told the neighbors: “Don’t worry about it—the road improvements in our subdivision are on ME!”
All in all, you would be left with about 159 million dollars. Which is not an amount to sneeze at—but it wouldn’t even place you in the 400 richest Americans on the Forbes list. You basically have to break the billion dollar mark to be there. Although, the rest of my natural life would see me able to spend about 3 million dollars each year without worry; and that’s before you count any interest your money makes for you while it’s in the bank. Unless, of course, you want to become a professional gambler, er, stock trader, and turn that money into something that will get you on that coveted list with Bill Gates and Oprah.
Then there’s the whole ‘more money, more problems’ thing to contend with. How many of us cringe when we think about the family and friends who we’ve not seen in years who would suddenly be coming out of the woodwork?
Maybe we don’t want to win the lottery, after all. Ugh.
So, how likely is it that any of us would actually win the big jackpot? Not very likely. The official odds are 1 in 175,223,510. Since that doesn’t make much sense to me (and I am assume, to you, either) I searched for a better explanation to make this hit home. I found a favorite: We are twenty-five times more likely to win an Oscar than we are to win the Powerball jackpot. Yep. That’s clears the picture up for me!
Nevertheless, someone is going to win… and what they do with the money will be all the talk for some time to come.