Powerball: Will someone be $600m richer on Saturday?


SAN FRANCISCO, CA - MAY 17: A customer purchases a Powerball ticket on May 17, 2013 in San Francisco, California. People are lining up to purchase $2 Powerball tickets as the multi-state jackpot hits $600 million.



The chance to become an overnight multi-millionaire is drawing Americans in 43 states to their local convenience stores and gas stations to score just a few more Powerball tickets before the drawing Saturday night.

It's so easy to dream about what you'd do with $600 million burning a hole in your pocket.

New mansion? Private island? Personal jet?

But whoever makes off with the winning ticket from the 43-state lottery game won't be pocketing the whole amount. 

If there's one lucky winner, the estimated lump sum would be just more than half of the advertised jackpot - $376.9 million.

The largest jackpot ever claimed was $656 million Mega Millions ticket that was split between three winners in Illinois, Kansas and Maryland last March.

Three Maryland public school teachers each took home a lump sum of $35 million.

Dominican immigrant Pedro Quezada, who won a $338 million March Powerball, chose a lump sum and ended up taking home $152 million after taxes.

The general rule for lottery jackpots is you would end up taking home about half of the advertised amount.

But, give or take a million, the amount you'd end up paying in taxes depends on the state you live in.

A New York City Powerball winner should expect to give more than half of their jackpot - about $197 million - to the taxman.

Floridian winners would have a much smaller tax bit since the state does not tax lottery earnings.

According to NBC News, you're hit with taxes pretty much every step of the way.

"The very day you cash in your winning ticket you'll be hit with a withholding that is deducted immediately from your payout. Then, next April, you’ll pay whatever additional tax you owe based on the bracket you’re in after you add up all your other earnings. For smaller pots, you might be able to reduce your tax burden by opting to take your winnings in smaller annual installments to fly below the top state and federal tax brackets."

Taking the annual payments option instead of one lump sum probably won't lower your tax liability either.

"These payouts are millions of dollars," Scott Drenkard, an economist with the Tax Foundation told NBC.

"So it’s not like taking the payout over a long amount of time would sneak you under a highest tax bracket."

And if you bought your ticket in a state with a separate income tax, get ready to send another check.

State tax bills on a lump sum lottery payment could range from $12.8 million in Indiana to $41.5 million in Hawaii.

It still sounds like a good deal but the odds of a single $2 ticket hitting the right six digit combination are about 1 in 175.2 million.

And if nobody picks those lucky six numbers on Saturday night?

The Powerball jackpot will roll over to next week’s drawing and probably surpass the  $656 million lottery record.

Good luck.

[View the story "What would you do with the Powerball cash?" on Storify]